The bawdy euphemisms, repressed truths, erotic delights and sculptural possibilities of the sexual body lie at the heart of Sarah Lucas’s work (b. 1962). First coming to prominence in the 1990s with a show at London’s City Racing memorably titled, Penis Nailed to a Board, this British artist’s sculpture, photography and installation have established her as one of the most important figures of her generation.
Lucas’s materials - furniture, clothing, food – are sculptural and associative. Nylon tights provide a useful casing: stuffed with wadding they become splayed limbs of female bodies. Tights are also intimate, erotic, yet cheap and disposable, both glamorous and abject. Lucas’s objects also draw on art history; her frequent use of toilet bowls recalls Duchamp’s urinal, the first ready-made.
Stained mattresses, sofas and chairs act as plinths for ‘bodies’ sometimes situated against the surreal domesticity of Lucas’s wallpapers. Her figures are all headless. There is only one face, that of the artist herself, omnipresent through a sequence of self portraits.
Lucas’s oeuvre has been quintessentially urban but this show also features her recent Penetralia, flying penises combined with wood and flint. Titled ‘Whand’ and ‘Druid’ they suggest a magical, holistic relation to nature.
This exhibition takes us from Lucas’s 1990s’ foray into the salacious perversities of British tabloid journalism to the London premiere of her sinuous, light reflecting bronzes: limbs, breasts and phalli intertwine to transform the abject into a dazzling celebration of polymorphous sexuality.
Additional support provided by the Sarah Lucas Exhibition Circle.