Phone Booth Gallery is pleased to present “Translucent Skin,” a solo exhibition of mixed media artwork by Dutch artist Handiedan. The show will run from December 19 to
A confluence of fragility, sexiness, nostalgia, and empowerment, “Translucent Skin” explores the tangled relationship between bodies and their histories. Skin has an unsettling yet strangely lyrical presence in Handiedan’s work—images of limbs, faces, and torsos often disappear into the yellowed surface of the collage, or spread out and soak into the layers of Handiedan’s images in a way that is physically impossible but surprisingly convincing.
Pin-up girls, defiantly complicated symbols of sexuality, play a central role in the exhibition, often appearing in groups of two or more. In past work, Handiedan has maintained an intentional tension between the bodies that interact in her work, but in the recent piece she created for this show, “Translucent No. 2,” bodies of pin-up girls twist into each other, at times becoming indistinguishable from one another. Yet Handiedan still manages to maintain a sense of distance.
In “Translucent No. 2,” two full-figured girls, one blonde and one brunette, sit together. The brunette’s legs triangulate the blonde’s face, and her hand grips the blonde’s hair. Yet the girls do not acknowledge one another’s presence; the blonde’s face looks out of the picture, and the brunette’s face has been rubbed out so she is no longer even capable of seeing.
The contrast between old and new has always been central to Handiedan’s work. She collects antique images and objects from flea markets around the world, choosing materials that will be familiar to a large number of people but still appear intimate and personal. Then she cuts into history and revitalizes it by taking apart the nostalgic stories her materials tell and adeptly composing nuanced new ones. In “Translucent Skin,” Victorian propriety collides with Burlesque, and the Wild West merges with Classic Hollywood. The weathered, aged quality of Handiedan’s materials is preserved, and girlish doodles dance across the surface of each image. Using pen and ink, an unforgiving medium, as her primary drawing tool, Handiedan imbues the collages with an impulsive, in-the-moment quality. Her work becomes alive and assertive despite its attachment to the past.