Exhibition: June 29 – July 28, 2018
Opening: Thurs, June 28, 6 – 8pm
WAAP | Wil Aballe Art Projects
688 East Hastings St (lower level)
Vancouver, BC V6A 1R1
+1 778 229 3458
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-5
In 2002, Betty Tompkins sent a message to her mailing list asking for words and phrases that described women. She received more than 3,500 responses in 10 languages, equally split between men and women. In 2002, three of the most common replies were ‘mother,’ ‘bitch’ and ‘slut.’ In 2013, she sent out the message again, and this time, said the answers would be anonymous. Those three words that were repeated in 2002 were repeated again. Tompkins thought this was amazing. She says, "Basically, this is the way the world thinks about women; the difference now is that we’ve become more sensitive to the words and how they play out in real life. We’ve never seen such an example of plain-old misogyny — as well as embedded misogyny from women — as we did in 2016. You can’t escape the political implication of this piece.”
The exhibition at WAAP will feature about 60 Women Words paintings. The content of the paintings, which range from the pleasant to the absolutely derogatory, speak to the tenuousness of language to shift quickly from a seemingly nice but condescending compliment like ‘darling’, to something more malevolent and destructive. Words matter. Some of the Women Words are painted on backgrounds that take on the history of 20th century heroic male painting, evocative, for instance, of Pollock's drippings, Gerhard Richter’s squeegee abstractions and Lucio Fontana’s freed and slashed painting surfaces.
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BETTY TOMPKINS (b. 1945) is an artist living and working in New York, NY, and Pleasant Mount, PA. For the last forty years, Betty Tompkins has based her paintings on the tension of intimacy and representation of sexuality, rendering explicit scenes in monochromatic tones. Her radicalism in the late 60s led to the unfortunate censoring of her work and later a spotlight on her role in the American and European art scene. Her large-scale, hyper realistic figure paintings are made from erotic photographs and built layer by layer, using two airbrush nozzles to apply black and white acrylic. Her work is not meant to arouse fantasy but to transpose light and shade, the effect of the process enveloping the scene in sfumato. Text and language play a large role in Tompkins work, often driving the subject matter and concept of the piece. Recent solo exhibitions include WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories, Flag Art Foundation, New York (2016); Real Ersatz, FUG, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York (2015); Art Basel Feature, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Basel, Switzerland (2014); Paintings & Works on Paper 1972-2013, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL (2014); Woman Words, Dinter Fine Art, Project Room #63, New York (2013); Fuck Paintings, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium (2012); New Work, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York (2009). Tompkins’s work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including The Shell (LANDSCAPES, PORTRAITS & SHAPES), Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France (2014); A Drawing Show, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (2014); CORPUS, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2014); A Chromatic Loss, Bortolami Gallery, New York (2014); Sunset and Pussy, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (2013); Elles, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011).