The most comprehensive retrospective to date of the painter Sylvia
Sleigh (1916–2010) presents works spanning more than sixty years. A
broad selection has been made in order to showcase the totality and
complexity of Sleigh's artistic endeavour. In addition to portraits, the
exhibition features a number of still lifes and landscapes, such as the
rarely displayed paintings of statues in the park landscape near Crystal
Palace in 1950s London. It is unusual for Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen to
present the first retrospective of an artist, but today Sleigh's position
is particularly interesting for a younger generation of artists.
Furthermore, the passionate attention that Sleigh paid to textiles and
decorative details in her works fits well into the context of St. Gallen
and its world famous textile tradition. Responsible for the exhibition
design is Martin Leuthold, the famous textile designer and art director of
Jakob Schlaepfer, St. Gallen. With a special design, he underlines this
aspect of Sleigh's work and lends particular project character to the
retrospective at Kunst Halle.
Sylvia Sleigh was born in Wales,
but moved to the United States in 1961 and settled in New York, where she
lived for the rest of her life. Upon the emergence of feminism in the
United States in the early 1970s, Sleigh established herself as a prominent
artist, in particular by painting portraits of male and female models, both
nude and clothed, which are characterised by strong colours and a love of
decorative details. She found her models among writers, actors, musicians,
and her fellow artists: hence her paintings serve also as a map of the
dynamic art scene of the 1960s and '70s in New York. In these portraits,
she combined bold sensuality with a personal feminism that placed her at
the heart of a discourse on power, representation, and gender. This
discourse, which can be considered an exploration of traditional academic
painting's fundamental guidelines, also entailed a break with an apparently
deadlocked power relation between a portrait's artist and subject.
The retrospective at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen is the second stop of a
travelling exhibition that was developed in coproduction with Kunstnernes
Hus, Oslo and Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux (CAPC). Further
stops are Tate Liverpool and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Sevilla.
It is intended to draw greater attention in Europe to Sleigh's work and
present her important position in recent art history to a broad public.
Sylvia Sleigh (b.1916,
Llandudno, Wales; d. 2010, New York) studied at the Brighton School of Art
in Sussex, England. Solo exhibitions took place at the following
institutions and galleries (amongst others): Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2012);
Freymond-Guth & Co. Fine Arts, Zurich (2010); I-20 Gallery, New York
(2009/2007); SoHo20, New York (2004/1999/1985/1980/1973); Milwaukee Art
Museum (1990); A.I.R. Gallery, New York (1978/1976/1975). Further, she
participated in various group exhibitions (amongst others): de Appel arts
centre, Amsterdam; MoMA PS1, New York (2010/2008); A.I.R. Gallery, New York
(2008/2000/1999/1998/1997); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
High-resolution images can be found here.
For further questions please contact Giovanni Carmine (email@example.com) or Maren Brauner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
exhibition is made possible by the Marie Müller Guarnieri Foundation;
the Office of Public Affairs, Embassy of the United States, Bern,
Switzerland; as well as the Women's Caucus for Art (WCA), New York. Special
thanks to Jakob Schlaepfer, St. Gallen.
The Kunst Halle Sankt
Gallen is supported by St. Gallen City Council, Kulturförderung Kanton
St.Gallen, Swisslos, Migros-Kulturprozent, Kulturförderung Appenzell
Ausserrhoden, Martel AG, St. Galler Tagblatt. The educational
programme is made possible by Raiffeisen.