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Exhibition at Hauser & Wirth focuses on artists whose work approaches the body and anatomy in complex ways
Installation view.



MONACO.- This exhibition focuses on artists whose work approaches the body and anatomy in complex ways through degrees of abstraction or fragmentation. In doing so, these artists both subvert the way the body has been traditionally represented in the history of art and the conventions surrounding the (classical or modern) fragment. While it highlights the work of women artists, it also includes work which challenges gender stereotyping and binary or cis-gender categories in favour of gender fluidity, often expressed through a fluidity of bodily form. The show simultaneously addresses new concepts of previously gender-defined strength, sexuality, fragility or illness, love, violence, tenderness, and human relations.

Taking its inspiration in part from Linda Nochlin’s essay ‘The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor of Modernity’ (1994), this exhibition reviews these ideas through the work of some of the twentieth and twenty-first century’s masters including Louise Bourgeois, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Ellen Gallagher, Eva Hesse, Lee Lozano, Anna Maria Maiolino, Christina Quarles, Cindy Sherman, Pipilotti Rist and Alina Szapocznikow among others. As Nochlin wrote in relation to the work of Louise Bourgeois and Cindy Sherman, among others, “the postmodern body, from the vantage-point of these artists and many others, is conceived of uniquely as the ‘body-in-pieces’: the very notion of a unified, unambiguously gendered subject is rendered suspect in their work.”

On display is a recent short film by Lorna Simpson, ‘Walk with me’ (2020); based on a collage of three women, their fractured, composite faces are subtly animated so that their eyes blink. Also included is a pivotal work by Alina Szapocznikow, ‘Noga (Leg)’ (1962), which is a plaster cast of the artist’s right leg, marking her shift away from the mere representation of the human form to a tangible imprint of her own body. Here, a detached, single limb, becomes a symbol of individuation and a vehicle of pleasure or eroticism, while also implicating the forces that commodify the female body. A sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, ‘Nature Study #6’ (1995), belongs to a series of bodily fragments rendered in marble. In the work, numerous smoothly carved breasts, which emphasise the maternal body with its capacity to nurture and regenerate, are contained within a roughly hewn trough or sarcophagus.

‘A Lull Gone By’ (2021) by Christina Quarles is a deliberately enigmatic, vivid painting teeming with breasts, limbs, torsos, and faces reconfigured into flowing and gender ambiguous forms. In her work, Quarles explores the different ways in which race, gender, and sexuality contribute to the mingling and questioning of identity.

Quarles’ work is juxtaposed with that of the late Austrian master Maria Lassnig, whose painting ‘Selbstportrait als Einäugige (Self Portrait as One Eyed)’ (1997) is included in the exhibition. Lassnig’s theory of ‘body awareness’ shaped a Surrealist-influenced method of communicating her mental perception of herself and her feelings through lacerating depictions of her own naked figure.

‘Bodily Abstractions / Fragmented Anatomies’ explores a variety of aesthetic approaches and techniques such as abstracting, fragmenting, cropping, juxtaposition, mutation and mutilation. The works subvert the fetishization of the female or traditionally gendered body, or its reduction to sexualized parts and surface appearances, and replace it with works that address female centred or non-binary experience, the outward manifestation of interior feeling, profound psychological states, and intellect.










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