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Where's the frame

Maribelle Bierens

February 1, 2024 3:28 PM


Beauty, a concept that seems to be so elusive, yet undeniably pervasive in our lives. Do we even stop and think about the different roles it has played throughout art history? For something as visual as art, you would expect it to be more widely explored than it actually gets. That's why Studio West’s current exhibition is so intriguing—it delves into the complexities of beauty within the specific historical context of Peter Lely's iconic Windsor Beauties of the 1660s.

Installation View, 'The Blush Upon Her Cheek', STUDIO WEST, 25 January - 22 February 2024. Image Courtesy of STUDIO WEST

Featuring the works of Leo Costelloe, Florence Reekie, and Ki Yoong, the allure of beauty and its complexities are artfully explored in ‘The Blush Upon Her Cheek’.

Leo Costelloe's sculptures challenge conventional notions of gender and beauty by transforming familiar adornments into curious, almost confrontational objects. With materials like glass and silver, Costelloe imbues ribbons, bows, and combs with a striking sharpness, disrupting their traditional associations with femininity.

Installation View, 'The Blush Upon Her Cheek', STUDIO WEST, 25 January - 22 February 2024. Image Courtesy of STUDIO WEST

Florence Reekie's paintings weave together the threads of history and contemporary culture, using drapery as a metaphor for societal ideals of beauty. Her use of recycled fabrics as canvases speaks to the inherent imperfections and contradictions within the pursuit of perfection.

In contrast, Ki Yoong's intimate portraits offer a contemporary revision of Lely's Windsor Beauties, celebrating the unique beauty of each individual. Through careful attention to detail and a soft, luminous palette, Yoong captures the essence of each subject, inviting viewers to explore the depths of inner and outer beauty. The absence of background detail leaves space for imagination, encouraging viewers to contemplate the stories behind each serene face.

Installation View, Leo Costelloe, Ghost/Comb everything Caressing: Debbie, 2021, Glass, Human Hair, Sterling Silver, 11 x 133 x 7 cm. Image Courtesy of the Artist and STUDIO WEST

As part of the exhibition, a commissioned essay by writer Millen Brown-Ewens offers insightful context of the historical backdrop of seventeenth-century aesthetics, illuminating the enduring allure and complexity of beauty in society.

‘The Blush Upon Her Cheek’ is on view until the 22nd of February at Studio West in Notting Hill. For more information, visit the gallery’s website.

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