Gagosian is pleased to announce its participation in Frieze New York at the Shed, the first in-person art fair of 2021 in the United States, with sculptures by Rachel Feinstein and paintings by Ewa Juszkiewicz.
Inspired by Baroque and Rococo sculpture, religious iconography, Romantic landscapes, and popular culture, Feinstein explores taste and desire, synthesizing elegance and kitsch. Having once visited the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich, she later located an online image of Rococo sculptor Franz Anton Bustelli's commedia dell'arte figurines, posed on unique shell-like pedestals. In response, she worked with the legendary factory to produce scaled-up majolica porcelain versions of the pedestals. In Feinstein's works, viewers can imagine taking the place of the commedia dell'arte characters and trying on their removable porcelain shoes for size. The sensual abstract forms of Chinoiserie, Corine, and Mezzetino (all 2018), titled after Bustelli figurines, suggest the human form through its conscious omission. Built to the scale of Feinstein's own body, they allude to the greatness of the Rococo era and the demise of European high craftsmanship.
Corine was included—along with Octavio, another sculpture from the same series—in Feinstein's exhibition Secrets at Gagosian Beverly Hills in 2018; all four works were installed in Regent's Park for Frieze London later the same year. Corine was also featured in Feinstein's recent major survey exhibition, Maiden, Mother, Crone, at the Jewish Museum, New York.
Juszkiewicz's meticulously precise oil portraits also draw on traditions of classical European painting—her sources date from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century—but with added touches of the surreal, the fantastical, and the grotesque. By obscuring her subjects' faces—a strategy that recalls René Magritte's painting Le fils de l'homme (The Son of Man) (1964)—she deconstructs conventional ideals of feminine beauty to evoke the suppression of female identity that permeates the Western canon. In five new paintings, Juszkiewicz 'paraphrases' portraits by Johann Ender, Rembrandt Peale, Joseph Karl Stieler, and Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, rendering richly colored leaves and flowers—mixed with hair, wigs, and heavy fabrics—in startling detail. The resultant hybrid figures teeter between reserve and uninhibitedness, nature and culture, human and nonhuman. They relocate—as do Feinstein's sculptures—the ghosts of women past firmly in the present.