Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Afrita Hamem, 2015

© Courtesy Zoulikha Bouabdellah


Elodie Antoine - Zoulikha Bouabdellah - Cindy Sherman - Kiki Smith 

There is not one art for women and another for men, just as there is no women's art and men's art - that is a fact! Never has a century challenged and contributed as much to female emancipation as the twentieth century: professional equality, the pill, abortion, the right to divorce ... are victories which we hope never to see undone. Nonetheless, the struggle is still very much alive and current; and dare we say, permanent.

While there is no such thing as women's art per se, several female artists have been forced to take a position by asserting a "feminist" interpretation of their artistic practice.
Ultimately, a hollow appears in this portrait of committed female art, despite everything; the figure of a masculine man, for whom this art is also (especially?) produced: his scrutiny, his reactions and the new role he is striving to build in our shattered contemporary societies.

The American photographer Cindy Sherman (born in 1954) has portrayed herself a hundred times, a thousand times, only, in the end, never to show herself, letting fantasies appear instead - the fantasy of the American housewife, that of the femme fatale, of exuberance, of the abused woman, the woman after a face-lift, the distorted woman - in short, she is forever assuming the roles of all these Western women, taking it to the extreme! The two photos we are presenting come from a 1980s series on the world of work, and, in fact, question, via androgynous cross-dressing, the sexual fantasy of women at work.

"For women, the body is our common denominator and the stage for our pleasures and our sorrows," states the visual artist Kiki Smith (born 1954, American). The issue of the female body, the ob-scenity of our social unconscious, is at the centre of Kiki Smith's work. Her art is imbued with political significance, undermining the traditional erotic representations of women by male artists. "Desire" and "Suffering" continually surface in her work, from women in childbirth to women torn apart. The original drawings which we are showing, in partnership with the Galerie Lelong (Paris, Zurich, New York), depict an extraordinary woman, a universal and fragile Gaia.

As with Kiki Smith, it is tempting to equate the work of the young Belgian artist Elodie Antoine (born in 1978) with femininity, fertility, purity. Yet, if we look more closely, everything about her work, from the subject matter to the medium, has been twisted, misappropriated and manipulated to explore femininity and male fantasies. By following in the footsteps of her surrealist forebears she gives us objects, sculptures and installations that are both full of humour and consumed with derision and social satire - she uses techniques traditionally associated with the "weaker" sex, such as embroidery and sewing (with their implied social function) or using hair. The works that we are presenting are little "man" traps: drill bit lipsticks, desecrated, phantasmagorical heads of hair ... ... These are pretty unconventional pieces!

Zoulikha Bouabdellah, a visual artist of Algerian origin, (born in 1977), is exhibiting with the Mathias COULLAUD gallery for the first time - a solo show of her work is programmed for November-December 2016. Her Arab heritage legitimises her tireless depiction and defence of the philosophy of peace and beauty embodied by the Quran and its civilization for centuries. She is a modern Arab woman. Woman's place in Arab society is at the heart of all the debates. The role of men in this same world is subject to every doubt and controversy. Dialogue is central to Zoulikha Bouabdellah's work. For this exhibition she will be challenging, through two of her major works, on the one hand, the provocative, unbounded sensuality of Gustave Courbet's painting, "Sleep": two naked women sleeping entwined in an embrace, and, on the other, more directly and with the subtlety that characterises her approach, the representation of female genitals.

Mathias Coullaud - 2015 december

EXHIBITION 8/01 > 27/02/16

Opening january 7th 2016
6p.m >  9p.m