For the first time since 2005, Helen CHADWICK's seminal series of thirteen photographs, Wreaths to Pleasure (1992–93), will be exhibited in their entirety. Taking as its exhibition title Chadwick's own reference to the series as 'Bad Blooms', the exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery will visually stimulate the public's senses through this presentation of her unique use of colour and matter.
Wreaths to Pleasure consist of thirteen colour photographs, each depicting different flowers and fruits set against and within both pleasant and poisonous liquids: tomato juice, melted chocolate, and detergents and soaps like Windowlene, Fairy, Ariel and Swarfega, and Germolene antiseptic cream. Shot from above and framed in the artist's own circular brightly coloured enamel steel frames, the works were the result of several years of experimentation by the artist. Each Wreath to Pleasure started as a sculptural installation, made within a shallow circular tank within which she would spread the liquids, gels, juices, flowers, and fruit, in a unique combination that would then be photographed.
This series illustrates Chadwick's depiction of a transient world of visual and sensorial pleasures and execrations, where both aspects collide: at the same time joyful, aphrodisiac, nauseous and abject. Chadwick examines the notions of desire and repulsion, life and death, beauty and ugliness by analysing - almost with a scientific approach - the fluidity of our existence and the matter that constitutes it.
The entire Wreaths to Pleasure series was first exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in a solo exhibition entitled effluvia (1994, London) and later exhibited that same year at the XXII Bienal de Sao Paulo (1994, Sao Paulo); then MoMA, New York, for the touring exhibition entitled Bad Blooms (1995-1996). The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, Helen Chadwick: Wreaths to Pleasure, published by Ridinghouse, London.
Helen Chadwick (b. 1953, Surrey; d. 1996, London) was one of the most important women artists to emerge in the last thirty years, Chadwick appeared at the intersection of conceptual-performative art and feminist thinking. She influenced and taught an entire generation of contemporary British artists through her teaching posts at Goldsmiths College, London; Chelsea College of Art & Design, London; and Central St. Martin's, London. One of the first women artists to be nominated for the Turner Prize, in 1987, her sudden death from heart failure in 1996 shocked the art world, interrupting the brilliant life of the artist at the apex of her career.
The work of Helen Chadwick can be found in many major international collections including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and MoMA, New York.