Jann Haworth: Out of the Rectangle 30 March — 13 May, 2023 Gazelli Art House 39 DOVER STREET LONDON W1S 4NN
“We live in rectangles. Much of our visual art is bound by rectangles: billboards, images online, films, magazines, Fine Art. Also, it might be said that we are defined by rectangles: our credit cards, passports, medical cards… Something so ubiquitous is worth questioning, and disrupting.”
— Jann Haworth
In the wake of the pandemic, Jann Haworth would begin preparations for her latest exhibition “more simply than usual”. The resewn patterns of our collective lives can be seen to parallel Haworth’s efforts “to make pieces that were softer” as the artist “pulled away from some of the expectations and constraints of fine art traditions: the evenly stretched canvas; the single sheet of canvas rather than pieced or layered; and the dominant Rectangle framework.”
Here, process would come to play a more prominent role: short of superseding, the efforts of making would be no longer “in service” to concept. Globally regarded as a pioneer of soft sculpture, Out of the Rectangle sees Haworth “revisit the residual borderline between Arts & Crafts and Fine Art”. The artist senses a “divide is still present, even now, after decades of redefining and pressure from great fibre artists, ceramicists, weavers and the rest”.
Visitors can observe Haworth’s “visceral” relationship to enduring artistic materials – gesso, rabbit skin glue, mid-tone duck-cream linen canvas, and pigment ground from rock. In duality, the hang hums with a radical energy, a tension conjured up in that space between conventional and contemporary curation. Notable historic works are shown alongside newly commissioned pieces, including rectilinear cardboard works whose reflective glass invites participation, a circular stretcher, a freestanding mannequin, and two double life size corsets.
As self-determined as Haworth herself, via their interrogations of the rectangle each work in this exhibition plays with tradition: its omnipresence, influence, and provocation to incite the new.
Succeeding this, Haworth’s empowering acrylic-on-paper collage Work in Progress (2021-22) made with daughter Liberty Blake, will debut in The National Portrait Gallery’s Reframing Narratives: Woman in Portraiture, a three year partnership project with the CHANEL Culture Fund. Of the collaboration, Dr. Flavia Frigeri, CHANEL Curator for the Collection at the National Portrait Gallery, says: “Trailblazing women of the past are role models for the future, so we are thrilled to have commissioned Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake to create this important work for the Collection.
Building on the achievements of Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture, Work in Progress brings women into new spaces of the Gallery who, prior to this commission, haven’t been represented before.” When the Gallery reopens, 48% of the portraits on display in its post-1900 galleries will be women, advancing the positive impact that gender equality brings to the world.
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