For her second solo show at Galerie Maria Bernheim, Sarah Slappey drew inspiration from both classical themes of art history and references as well as pop culture imagery. An overarching theme is the place of women within society, alluding to the “problem with no name” that Betty Friedan identified in the 60s as the dissatisfaction and the lack of fulfilment of women who embarked on careers as housewives and mothers in suburban America. In these new paintings, Slappey explores art historical references, both classical and artists such as Louise Bourgeois, in particular the series “Femme Maison” in which, according to the artist; “emphasizes the idea that the woman body is only an empty vessel; depicting the woman as a house and the pressure as women to accommodate the emotions/needs of everyone around us, even when it involves self-inflicted pain.” The initial beauty of each painting draws the viewer in yet upon close inspection each of them is built around disturbing and violent element, thus creating a dissonance that evokes the struggles of women in the domestic sphere. The traditional theme of the nude, and in particular of the female nude takes on an entirely new aspect when Slappey also combines it with elements of popular culture and sets of references, exemplified by the painting “Hell Raiser”, titled after the movie.
In her most monumental painting to date, “Knick”, she creates a cinematographic scene, abstractly depicting a scene of legs being shaved, an instance in which women are supposed to beautify themselves behind closed doors, responding to society’s ideals. Here the bodies intertwine and support each other, Slappey transports the viewer into a gloomy, repugnant world, where the intensity of each detail is increased by the size of the canvas.
Sarah Slappey (b.1984, Columbia, South Carolina) graduated from Wake Forest University in 2006 and completed her MFA from Hunter College in 2016. In 2015, she was awarded a Kossak Painting Grant and a Hunter MFA award in Painting. Slappey has been exhibited at Sargent’s Daughters, NY. Her work has been included in numerous international group shows at Crush Curatorial, New York; START Gallery; Wake Forest University; Winston-Salem,George Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Schlossmuseum, Linz, Austria; Galerie König, Berlin, Germany; White Cube, Paris, France; Galerie Perrotin, Paris, France; Tik Tak, Antwerp, Belgium.
Her work is included in the permanent collections of The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO), Geneva, Switzerland; The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Miami; The Colombus Museum of Art, Georgia; Orange County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Zabludowicz Collection, London; Vanhaerents Art Collection, Bruxelles.
Slappey’s work has been featured by the New Yorker, The Art Newspaper, Artnet, Juxtapoz and Flash Art, among others.
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