Opening in June 2023 at Sadie Coles HQ’s Bury Street gallery, St James’s, Lisa Brice presents two singular works that collectively span her career and recognise her incisive reinterpretations of femininity in culture high or low.
Conceived as a focussed presentation, the works’ subject matter reflect Brice’s enduring visual lexicon in which she often layers and subverts references to art historical and contemporary archetypes of femininity.
The work made in 1992 is a painted and collaged cut-out portraying a go-go dancer from Brice’s Sex Show Work (1992-1994). This is presented in dialogue with a brand-new painting made in direct response to the original and inspired by Manet’s A Bar at the Folie Bergère. Both set their compositions in a bar, and the twin works repeat the central figure of a working woman. The more expansive composition of the new painting includes protagonists from Brice’s previous works reimagined as characters in A Bar At The Folies Bergère, mirrored or reversed to reveal an atmosphere wholly feminine. Brice’s interpretation of the Manet bar has beer and champagne replaced by rum and Stag beer and barmaids by dancers, and nods to the Trinidadian context familiar from her After Embah bar scenes from 2017.
In both paintings the protagonists have a double-edged aura of provocative allure, conjuring a critique of traditional objectified femininity and a renewed vision of empowered confrontation. Presenting a timeline simultaneously connects these two works within the gallery, and the earlier painting signposts development from the relatively unknown earlier works of this artist, equally emphasizing the conceptual motifs threaded through Brice’s three-decade practice.