Preview: 7-8 October
Richard Saltoun Gallery’s online viewing room for Frieze Masters is dedicated to Renate BERTLMANN, who represented Austria at the Venice Biennale in 2019. The presentation features work from Bertlmann’s Magic Carpet series and related sculptures, a defined body of work created between 1988 and 1998. Presented for the first time since their making, these works show the more playful side of this radical, once scandalous, feminist artist, whose work has challenged male oppression and the way women have been held back by societal conventions throughout the course of her career.
The Magic Carpet paintings and sculptures are, in Renate’s words, a “courageous feminist act.” Embodying a sense of feminine erotica and magical optimism, the works explicitly manifest Bertlmann’s exploration of ‘kitsch’ in the provocative trilogy that defines her practice: 'Pornography', 'Utopia' and 'Irony'. The gallery’s presentation for Frieze Masters features a number of works from the series that, instead of Bertlmann’s distinctive use of sexualised objects like dildos or inflated condoms, incorporate tinsel, baubles and glitter with bright neon paint. Fun and light-hearted works on paper are shown alongside small-scale mixed media sculptures that combine papier mâché, Polaroid photographs, Perspex and postcards.
Highlights of the presentation include Spring Awakening (1989), a painting depicting phallic ‘mushrooms’ springing from a grassy flower bed; Trilogic Towers (all 1990), various works that illustrate a triad of slender cones, out of which spring a neon penis, heart and vagina painted in the colours that define Bertlmann’s trilogy: pink (pornography), yellow (irony) and blue (utopia); as well as works from her Procession series (all 1998), featuring fabric made of roses, another characteristic motif that took centre stage at her presentation during the Venice Biennale.