Power Duos Create New Artworks For London Exhibition
20th century history of art is full of examples of power couples where partners in crime have created brilliant works of art in their own rights. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Picasso and Dora Maar, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Gilbert & George,Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz to name but a few passionate and turbulent relationships. These remarkable love affairs between artists is expanded into the 21st century with an exhibition titled Sweethearts: Artist Couples co-curated by Pippy Houldsworth and Kathy Battista, director of contemporary art at the Sotheby’s Institute in New York and now in London at the Pippy Houldsworth gallery in Heddon St. But if creativity can be a solitary struggle for expression then what price creativity when one’s partner is also striving for artistic excellence? Where does support, tolerance, compromise end and competition, maybe even rivalry begin?
Artists on show include Richard Wentworth /Jane Wentworth, Neo Rauch/Rosa Loy, Rem Koolhaas/Madelon Vriesendorp, Sam Durant/Ana Prvacki, Antony Gormley/Vicken Parsons, Ray Barrie/Mary Kelly, Gary Hume/Georgie Hopton, Dan Graham/Mieko Meguro, Ian Davenport/Sue Arrowsmith, Kelly Barrie/Sherin Guirguis.
The exhibition mainly features commissioned works, and thus is very diverse, and spread across a variety of mediums. It includes painting (Gary Hume and Georgie Hopton; Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy; Ian Davenport and Sue Arrowsmith), sculpture (Antony Gormley and Vicken Parsons), but then it also extends to installation (Richard and Jane Wentworth) and a take away wet wipe – what I would describe as a relational work by Sam Durant and Ana Prvacki. They’ve created a wet wipe with an image of their daughter’s hand on it that every visitor will be able to take away. It ties into ideas of hygiene, gender, ubiquity, mass production, and globalisation.” “I think the best works are those where it’s a real mixture of the two artists’ practices. For example, the collaboration between Gary Hume and Georgie Hopton on one level looks very much like a Gary Hume, but if you look closer, Georgie’s aesthetic is very clear: the flowers as subject matter. When two strong, individual artists come together, somebody has to compromise, and I was very interested in seeing how that would play out. There are some cases where I would say the power dynamic between the couple is visible in the work. But in a lot of cases it really is a beautiful amalgam of the two. Kelly Barrie and Sherin Guirguis have made a work that really works as a hybrid, integrating key elements of both their practices – the performative photography of Barrie and the sculptural patterning of Guirguis. Sherin created a classical Islamic pattern on black paper using white powder; she and Kelly then danced to a traditional Egyptian love song on the surface of the paper, resulting in the footprints and obscuring of the pattern in places. This was then photographed and printed in large scale – four by eight feet.”
Sweethearts: Artist Couples runs from 21 March – 21 April 2012 Pippy Houldsworth gallery Heddon St.