The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Monday, May 17, 2021

Exhibition celebrating Evelyne Axell's feminist take on Pop Art opens at Muzeum Susch
Evelyne Axell, L'Appel, 1972, enamel on plexi glass and Formica, 104 × 128 cm. Courtesy Collection Philippe Axell, Photo Paul Louis. © ADAGP, Paris - Prolitteris, Zurich 2020.

SUSCH.- Muzeum Susch presents Body Double, a solo presentation of the major Pop Art figure, Evelyne Axell (1935-1972). Axell embraced Pop Art in the 1960s, pioneering an original feminist take on the male-dominated genre. Axell ultimately transcended the established economies of Pop Art iconography at the time, her distinct body of work populated by an all-female universe reclaiming the discourse of women’s sexuality.

Evelyne Axell’s career was tragically cut short by her untimely death in a car accident, aged just 37, meaning her work and contribution to early feminist art and Pop Art was subsequently left out of the dominant narrative of art history, alongside her contemporaries such as Pauline Boty, Rosalind Drexler, Kiki Kogelnik, and Dorothy Iannone, who have only found due recognition in recent years. Co-curated by Anke Kempkes, international curator, art historian and art critic and Krzysztof Kościuczuk, artistic director of Muzeum Susch this exhibition presents several dozen works across the artist’s oeuvre. Body Double brings together a selection of collages and painterly objects - often created with novel artificial materials, such as her signature technique of painting plastic with car enamel - as well as rare three-dimensional pieces and works on paper, many of which have not been on view in decades. Following a presentation at Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach in 2011, this is the largest solo museum retrospective to be staged outside of Axell’s native Belgium in decades.

Born in Belgium in 1935, Axell began her career as a TV presenter under the name of Evelyne Axell, becoming a charismatic and acclaimed theatre and film actress, as well as script writer in the Nouvelle Vague genre. Tutored for by the Belgian Surrealist René Magritte, Axell turned to painting in 1964. Axell filtered the contemporary vocabulary of Pop Art through an own reading of Surrealism. Her daring work was initially met with such derision by male critics that she decided to drop her first name Evelyne to publish professional work under the androgynous ‘Axell’ in order to escape the associations of her gender.

Body Double offers a close reading of Axell’s self-articulations and the aesthetic treatment of the meta-autobiographical dimension in her work. The exhibition also highlights the diverse political themes in Axell’s work, situating her iconography in an international perspective of the time. As an active witness of the era of sexual liberation, Axell’s explorations focussed on a female body that was both liberated from past painterly conventions of depicting femininity and, ultimately, from the heterosexual and patriarchal matrix of society – both historical and contemporary. Throughout her work, Axell forged a signature iconography of empowered female nudes inhabiting spheres of utopian homosociality. As the artist herself said, “Despite all aggressiveness, my universe abounds above all in an unconditional love for life. My subject is clear: nudity and femininity experiment in the utopia of a bio-botanical freedom, that means a freedom without frustration nor gradual submission, and that tolerates only the limits that it sets itself.” (Axell, 1970)

As its title suggests, Body Double hones in on the - almost obsessively recurring - motif of ‘the double’ in Axell’s compositions. These range from identical, idealized female nudes, engaged in a dialogue, caught motionless as if in a Greek freeze, or resembling keepers of a portal to an uncharted territory, to psychologically charged double self-portraits, twin females absorbed in an embrace or a kiss, to figures in which the only distinctive feature is their skin colour – resonating with the agendas of anti-colonial politics of the time and the US civil rights movement. The rich iconography of the ‘Body Double’ culminates in Axell’s painting, La grande sortie dans l’espace (The Great Journey into Outer Space, 1967) in which cosmonautic nudes float in space in a modern pagan circle dance. Transcending Matisse’s purely aesthetic compositions of cut-out nudes, Axell’s Arcadian abstraction is a vision of a joyful, non-authoritarian new dimension in which female pleasure can unfold freely.

Another aspect of “the double” in Axell’s paintings is the “bio-botanique”: with surreal beasts, exotic animals, and tropical vegetation that exist as “bio-cultural companions” to use Paul B. Preciado’s term. These include representations of transformed ideal egos, stand-ins for human, or eroticized scenes like the Le Homard Amoureux (Lobster in Love, 1967) in whose embrace the female shape dissolves into a human-crustacean hybrid. Even today, Evelyne Axell’s work remains highly evocative in its transgressive sexual iconography, proto-feminist agenda and liberalist utopian outlook.

Today's News

August 2, 2020

Art in a pandemic: Tokyo show tests if fans will come

The investigation that led police to stolen Banksy in Italy

Online exhibition includes thirteen important paintings made between 1971 and 1976 by Philip Guston

Thousands set to 'explore' Sir Ed's hut in Antarctica

Qatar Museums to welcome visitors back in August with five special exhibitions

Exhibition focuses on works from museum's collection by womxn artists

Coeur d'Alene Art Auction totals over $10 million in sales

Exhibition celebrating Evelyne Axell's feminist take on Pop Art opens at Muzeum Susch

Queensland Art Gallery revs up to reopen next week ahead of 'The Motorcycle'

Miles McEnery Gallery now representing Rico Gatson

James Silberman, editor who nurtured literary careers, dies at 93

Exhibition at Tallinn Art Hall re-examines Olev Subbi's legacy

Exhibition of new works by Martha Jungwirth inaugurates Modern Art's new London space

Northern Ireland's Ulster Museum reopens to the public, Access for All strategy announced

New short film created by Fairfield University Art Museum, captures essence of its Cuban art exhibition

Alexia Lobaina appointed Associate Curator of Education at The Cornell Fine Arts Museum

Malik B., longtime member of the Roots, is dead at 47

Pi Artworks London opens a solo exhibition of works by Nancy Atakan

Durden and Ray opens Personal Contacts, a six-part series of exhibitions

Dix Noonan Webb to hold second annual auction devoted to Indian coins

Swiss tone down national celebrations as virus cases rise

The CAS acquires 106 works by 16 artists for museums and communities across the UK

Yisrael Dror Hemed is the Winner of the Shiff Prize for Art 2020

MAMbo, Bologna announces Nuovo Forno del Pane, a new cross-disciplinary production center

Black Families Were Hit Hard by the Pandemic. The Effects on Children May Be Lasting.

Purchase products, Get coupons and Lead a happy life

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful