XX - the Roman numerals which represent the number twenty, but also the chromosomes that determine the physical genes of the woman gender. This exhibition explores both - the imagery of women and all within in the 20th century. It's an exhibition that has an artistic expanse of painting, sculpture, drawings, bronze, terracotta, pastels and ceramics. And whilst it is diverse in medium it is also diverse in representation; showing women as wives, lovers, virgins, prostitutes, goddesses and workers. The twentieth century saw a big change in the appearance and social condition of women. Cleverly named, this exhibition is, XX: The Female Gender In XXth Century Italian Art.
As the title suggests this exhibition started in Italy and after huge success has been opened in the London Laocoon Gallery. Curator Monica Cardarelli, a strong advocate of women's rights, has gathered many works together and invites you to see the journey of these women and allow your own response to the inspiration behind these works.
The quiet, poised portrait of Anna Maria Passeralle hangs next to Alberto Ziveri's 'Female Nude with Fan' the contrast of women is welcomed and highlighted, casting no judgement on which is better or favoured. Showing that two very different women can exist and embrace who they are at the same time and neither one should cause expectation onto the other.
It is a celebration of women but also of artistic talent; gathering work from many different artists and displaying the artist's skill of capturing the essence and personality of many women. From Pietro Gaudenzi's paintings heavy with the hardship and toughness of the female workers to the brightly abstract 'Aurelia' by Alberto Martini. There is meaning much deeper than just what is displayed in the gallery, for example, 'Leda and the Swan' a glazed ceramic by Andrea Spadini - the sculpture shows a swan, who could be, nursing from a beautiful, delicate woman - perhaps a metaphor of mother nature. However, the sculpture is actually based on the legend of Zeus, who turned himself into a swan in order to violate the body of Leda. Behind some of the artworks are stories and legends that speak of the troubling culture and struggle around, and of, women. But then, there is Renato Guttuso's Medusa - an image of enraged and venomous power in a woman. This exhibition balances every perspective.
This exhibition feels interaction - in the sense that it is inviting you to evaluate and explore the idea of the female gender through art. And the art holds no boundaries, it is truly an exhibition of inclusion - allowing all different methods, styles and mediums. These photos give a flavour of the exhibition, however, there is much to discover and ruminate on, both on the subject of art and women.
The image of women has been something that humans have struggled with for a long time, which seems ridiculous. This exhibition shows, women have been one hundred different personas in one hundred different years and there cannot be one type of behaviour, appearance nor temperament that defines them, or rather, defines us.
This exhibition is open until 30th January.
2a Ryder Street