Kicking off a year of showing only female artists, a solo exhibition of British performance artist Rose English’s work opens at Richard Saltoun Gallery tonight. Her work plays with femininity and the fetishes and expectations around the female body and experience. Perhaps uniquely, English explores the way the aristocracy, and its luxuries and pressures, have shaped our understanding of women through centuries of metaphors. Her wry, Jilly Cooper-esque “pony play” pieces are still vaguely shocking today; a naked woman in the saddle, a naked woman wearing a tail—there’s a frankness about the images that brings out the blustering, “Well I say” in the viewer, revealing just how deep some of that old cultural conditioning goes.
Image courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery