Hales is delighted to announce La Muñeca, British artist Lucy Stein’s debut solo exhibition with the gallery and her first solo show in London in almost a decade. Stein was recently included in exhibitions at RAMM, Exeter and at the Eden Project, Cornwall. Her solo exhibition Wet Room toured from Spike Island, Bristol to De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill UK (2021/22). In 2024, Stein will have a solo exhibition and performance at Museo Casa Rusca, Locarno, Switzerland and a residency at CCA Andratx, Mallorca.
Across a twenty-year practice, Stein has developed an expansive body of conceptual work rooted in painting which embraces performance, film, writing and collaborative projects. Building upon rich painterly traditions and contemporary culture, Stein creates a world of stories. Narratives and imagery, which appear in her work, are drawn from Stein's study of psychoanalysis, feminist theory, esoteric histories, and personal experience.
The title of the exhibition, La Muñeca translates from Spanish to mean both 'doll' and 'wrist'. For Stein this double meaning encapsulates the relationship between process and iconography in the paintings. Drawing on psychoanalysis, her works reveal multitudes, she notes: ‘they are neither illustration nor abstraction nor narrative nor process painting but all of those things and become deeper as the complexity of the relations between these frames of reference is extrapolated whilst I work.’ Stein’s connection to Spain is also of importance: as a child she spent every summer living in the village of Jesus Pobre on the Valencian coast, which she considers another “home.” Tile panelled works have been a strand of Stein’s practice since a research trip to Manises, Spain in 2013, where tile artworks line the streets.
Stein continues to explore dolls and goddesses — feminine archetypes she has looked to for many years. In this exhibition she moves slightly away from her study of esoteric modernism in Cornwall. She has been contemplating a line from Elena Ferrante’s novel The Lost Daughter, quoted in Jaqueline Rose’s Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty: “‘A mother is only a daughter who plays,’ Leda thinks to herself as she enacts various hideous rituals on the doll she has stolen. ‘I was playing now.’”
The exhibition combines a few key motifs including depictions of Lilith – the stand in for all that is complex and vengeful in womanhood as well as a reference to the Head of St Anne by Leonardo da Vinci, relating to boundlessness and motherhood. The ghostly paintings La Muñeca (deathwatch) and La Muñeca (grannies/abuelas) depict a 1950s nurse doll, which Stein associates with her maternal grandmother who was psychic, suffered from depression and worked as a nurse. Flowers are sourced from the artist and book illustrator Walter Crane, speaking to the Golden age of mournful saccharine children’s illustration in Britain which happened at the apex of empire. By using these motifs, the works invoke childhood and foreground what is impossible to slough off politically or unconsciously, ‘cycles of guilt, complicity, pleasure and rage coexist as an exuberant swoon.’ (Stein, 2023)
Items of mortality, a written piece by artist and writer, Maria Christoforidou will accompany the show.
* Who Killed Cock Robin nursery rhyme.
Lucy Stein (b.1979, Oxford, UK) lives and works in St Just, West Cornwall, UK. She received a BA in Painting from The Glasgow School of Art in 2004, Scotland and went on to study at De Ateliers, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2004-2006).
Her work has been shown at Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland (2022); Futura, Prague, Czech Republic (2020); Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, UK (2019); Galerie Gregor Staiger, Milan (2020) and Zurich (2018, 2015, 2013, 2011); Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Tate St Ives, UK (both 2018); NICC Brussels; TULCA festival, Galway; Newlyn Gallery, Penzance, UK (all 2017); Migros Museum, Zurich (2014); BROADWAY 1602, New York (2007, 2009); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; and ICA London (both 2006).