Tate St Ives
24 May – 1 September 2019
Lebanese artist Huguette Caland (b. 1931) has her first UK museum solo exhibition at Tate St Ives. Shifting between figuration and abstraction in large, colourful paintings and detailed drawings, the works will reveal the delicate balance between the suggestive and the explicit in Caland’s practice. Taken from the late 1960s to the early 80s, many of the works will be shown in the UK for the first time, revealing her artistic significance.
Caland’s exploratory practice has had a key, if under-recognised, role in the development of international modern art. In the 1970s, after moving to Paris from Beirut, she created exuberant and erotically-charged paintings, which challenged traditional conventions of beauty and desire. The female physique is a recurrent motif in her work, depicted as landscapes or amorphous forms. Caland has often used her own body as a subject, and her self-representation comes from a desire to liberate and control how her own body and the bodies of other women are depicted.
The exhibition will include large canvases with bright colours, such as her Bribes de corps (Body Parts) series from the 1970s, softly moving from abstraction into figuration, with shapes doubling as flesh. Alongside these paintings are Caland’s intricate drawings, which demonstrate her mastery of line. In these works, portraits of friends and lovers transform into landscapes, and landscapes into overtly sexualized body parts.
Throughout a career that has spanned forty-eight years, she has collaborated with artists, writers and designers. While living in Paris, she worked with the fashion designer Pierre Cardin, and the exhibition will feature some of the caftans that Caland created in collaboration with him.
Born Huguette El Khoury in Lebanon in 1931, her father, Bechara El Khoury, became the first post-independence president of Lebanon in 1943. She studied art at the American University in Beirut and lived in Paris and then California for many years, before returning to Beirut in 2013. She had a retrospective at the Beirut Exhibition Center in 2013, and her work was featured in the Made in LA exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2016 and in Viva Arte Viva at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. In 2018 she had her first institutional solo show in New York at the Institute for Arab and Islamic Art, and her work is currently included in Sharjah Biennial 14.
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