Sunday, October 4, 2015
Ellen Lesperance: We Were Singing
“We Were Singing” is a solo-exhibition at Adams and Ollman featuring the work of Ellen Lesperance. The exhibition highlights Lesperance’s new body of work based on the feminist painter Sylvia Sleigh. Pieces in the exhibition include new paintings on paper, sculptural textiles, graphite drawings, and photographs. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Prop for a Turkish Bath, is an assemblage of textiles and Polaroid photographs that references Sleigh’s painting, The Turkish Bath. “We Were Singing” is a personal investigation into Lesperance’s experiences as they correlate with Sleigh and the history of art and feminism.
Sleigh was a feminist painter who created paintings of nude males. She was radical in her reversal of traditional sexual roles. Her work recalls the female subjects of classic paintings such as those by Titian or Ingres. While placing males in provocative nude poses traditionally reserved for female figures, Sleigh created intimate portrayals without objectifying her subjects. She stated, "I wanted to give my perspective, portraying both sexes with dignity and humanism."
[Image: Ellen Lesperance, Prop for a Turkish Bath, 2014, courtesy of the artist and Adams and Ollman.]
In Prop for a Turkish Bath, Lesperance recreates an object from one of Sleigh’s most iconic paintings, The Turkish Bath. The textile sculpture provides a backdrop to a series of Polaroid portraits of Lesperance’s husband. The photographs reinterpret Sleighs paintings by placing Lesperance’s husband in the role of the subject. Lesperance provides evidence for the intimate exchanges between husband and wife. The photographs also create an interesting juxtaposition between the classicized nude poses and the geometric textile patterned backdrop.
To see the comparison between Lesperance's Polaroids and Sleigh's paintings, here's a link to Sylvia Sleigh's Paul Rosana Reclining.
My pick from the exhibition:
Members of the A.I.R Gallery Cooperative Meet on a Saturday Morning in 1977 SOHO to Redress History, 2015, gouache and graphite on tea stained paper, courtesy of the artist and Adams and Ollman.]
“We Were Singing” is on view at Adams and Ollman Gallery until October 10, 2015. Hurry and see it before it closes.
Adams and Ollman: 209 SW 9th Avenue, Portland, OR 97205
Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm and by appointment