Karsten Schubert London is delighted to announce a joint presentation of Pierre Molinier (1900–1976) in conversation with Cathie Pilkington's contemporary response to the these 20th century photographs. Secreted away on the top floor of an 18th century Soho townhouse, the dimly lit, Dickensian setting of Room 2 offers a fitting backdrop for Molinier's photographs and Pilkington's response to them; her site-specific installation ambivalent in its artistic, religious, subjective and sexual dialogue with Molinier. Opening 14 February, to coincide with Saint Valentine's Day, The Covering will be the second exhibition hosted at the gallery's new viewing space, Room 2 at 44 Lexington Street, W1.
The exhibition focuses on five photographs from Molinier's celebrated 'cent photographies erotiques' series, first shown at the Centre Pompidou for the artist's 1979 posthumous retrospective. Dating from 1960 to 1974, these carefully staged erotic self-portraits picture a suggestively posed Molinier in an array of fetishist ensembles. In several instances, disembodied doll limbs feature, stood apart, or entangled with Molinier's own body. The artist's own face, frequently overlaid with a doll mask, further adds to the disquieting sense of the uncanny.
Karsten Schubert London has invited British sculptor and Royal Academician, Cathie Pilkington (b. 1968), to create a site-specific installation in response to Molinier's photographs within the Soho space. Pilkington is renowned for her use of doll and mannequin forms meticulously crafted in a variety of materials and incorporating ready-made elements. Informed by Surrealism, she utilises quotidian objects to unsettle and provoke, disrupting and recontextualising the everyday as a means of probing preconceived ideas around sexuality, gender and personhood. Pilkington's installation features an assortment of miscellaneous props and materials; blankets, mirrors and studio furniture. Included in the installation will be a rare of example of American artist Morton Bartlett's (1909–1992) lifelike plaster dolls, on loan from the David Roberts Collection, London.
While perhaps less shocking to the contemporary viewer, Molinier's work was groundbreaking in addressing taboo subjects at a time when to do so was deemed depraved. Famously dubbed, 'the magician of erotic art' by André Breton, Molinier is routinely cited as an influence for subsequent generations of artists such as Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe and Ron Athey. When placed in dialogue with Pilkington's multivalent installation, the contemporary resonance of Molinier's oeuvre becomes ever more apparent.
The Covering: Cathie Pilkington and Pierre Molinier is accompanied by a catalogue published by Ridinghouse and featuring a new essay by art historian Neil Walton.
Pierre Molinier was a French Surrealist painter and photographer, best known for his erotic photographs. Molinier was firstly a landscape painter, working in Fauve and Impressionist styles. It was after the First World War that Molinier explored eroticism and fetishist influences that would characterise his later photographs and works. In 1965, the artist began to make autoerotic self-portraits and photomontages in his Bordeaux apartment, which he referred to as his boudoir. Molinier committed suicide in 1976.
Cathie Pilkington is a London based sculptor and figurative artist. She studied BA Silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art (1985–1991) and went on to study Sculpture at the Royal College of Art (1995–1997). Pilkington was awarded the Sunny Dupree Award for her work Reclining Doll.
Pilkington's practice unites the interrelated and antagonistic worlds of fine art and craft. Her sculptures often take on doll like forms, exploring the immediacy of figurative playthings. Pilkington had an exhibition The Value of the Paw at the V&A Museum of Childhood in 2012 and most recently an exhibition titled Working from Home at Pallant House Gallery in 2019. Her work is held in the collections of Pallant House Gallery, the Deste Foundation, Athens, Manchester City Art Gallery, Hunterian, Glasgow University, Omer Koc Collection and the David Roberts Art Foundation.
Text courtesy Branch Arts.