Lisa Brice reconfigures the male gaze in forthcoming exhibition

Lisa Brice reconfigures the male gaze in forthcoming exhibition
Lisa Brice, 'Untitled.' Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery.
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In just a few weeks, the Stephen Friedman Gallery will present a solo exhibition of works by London-based artist Lisa Brice (b. 1968). Opening September 26th, this will mark Brice’s second show at the gallery’s London location for which, Brice has created an entirely new body of works on paper and paintings.

In the exhibition, Brice explores notions of the male gaze; She examines it, pushes back against it, and, ultimately, reinterprets it by turning it on its head. For the show, her works depict the female nude but in a manner that gives her subjects autonomy. The works presented in the upcoming show recall those by Manet, Degas, and Picasso but the agency Brice gives the women she depicts set hers apart from the ‘misogynistic nature of historical figuration typically painted by white men for white men.’ Instead, Brice makes room for the women she’s depicted to tell their own story.

To further unhinge the male gaze, Brice chose a palette of vermilion and cobalt blue as opposed to that of skin tones to further obscure the body. Mirrors, smoke, and even metal grilles are used to obstruct the bodies of Brice’s subjects. Breaking up the physical space of the gallery, Brice has also made a series of painted, free-standing folding screens making it impossible to peek in on paintings from across the room. These screens are tinged with irony as they’re the sort that would have been used in a studio to give nude models privacy while dressing and undressing.

Lisa Brice, ‘Untitled.’ Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery.

Brice also toys with liminality and the uncertainty that lies therein. By working with physical thresholds – one of her paintings depicts a woman at a vibrant, red door for example – Brice explores notions of what is public and private, interior and exterior, artist and model. Her new body of work also explores traditional depictions of women and makes them her own. Untitled is one such painting which shows a woman standing naked, except for her stockings, before a mirror. Her head is turned away from the viewers but she stares directly at the viewer’s eyes in the reflection of the mirror. Thus, she is able to see the viewer but she controls how the viewer sees her. She holds a cigarette loosely in her mouth and paintbrush in her right hand while her palette sits at her feet. With this, Brice has taken a traditional, often allegorical, representation of the female painter and made it into her own, thus making the female painter more than just a metaphor for another.

Brice was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has since lived in both London and Trinidad. Throughout her career, she has exhibited in a number of international galleries and institutions and last year, she was the focus of a solo exhibition at Tate Britain. After her show at the Stephen Friedman Gallery, Brice is set to have a major exhibition of works in the Netherlands late next year.

Lisa Brice’s solo exhibition will be on view between September 27th and November 9th with a private viewing on the evening of September 26th at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London. Accompanying the exhibition will be a booklet and commissioned essay by curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Laura Smith.