The Glorious Maids of the Charnel House
Monday 4th July, 2016
#EVA16 artist Alice Maher opens new show, The Glorious Maids of the Charnel House, on view at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery running from 2 June - 2 July.
Alice Maher’s recent work represents a return to figuration with renewed passion in a series of nine large drawings. In The Glorious Maids of the Charnel House, she continues her exploration of metamorphosis in the most mutable of all territories, the human body. Her ‘Maids’ stand guard in a visceral universe, where human, animal and vegetal intermingle, co-evolve and overlap in intense, hybrid forms. They glory in their steamy charnel house of corruption and regeneration. They spill, seep, multiply, explore, extrude, propagate and gratify themselves. These enigmatic figures, while plunged in a seemingly malevolent world of perpetual transformation, retain an ethereal calm; serene inhabitants of the artist’s ever generative imagination. Maher’s reference points include classical art history, as well as medical textbooks and her own thirty-year back catalogue of mythopoetic motifs. This new series can be seen as the bracketing of her ‘Thicket’ drawings from 1990, as well as a further development of themes explored in her photographic ‘Portraits’ of 2003, where the natural and the non natural merge, making the female the principal site of language and creativity, and a powerful subjective force in her own world.
The drawings in The Glorious Maids of the Charnel House comprise a spectrum of experience. Extreme ecstasy is evoked alongside curiosity, nonchalance, pain and defiance through the absurd paradoxes of their bodily incarnations. A hybrid creature appears happy to be eviscerated by a priestess, naked but for her tall mitre. Great horns of coral sprout from either side of a tranquil face whose eyes fix the viewer in a classical stare. A figure squats under the burden of a monstrous heart. A body covered entirely with eyes may embody the manifestation of a highly sensitised faculty of awareness.
See Alice Maher's #EVA16 artwork Cassandra's Necklace (2) at Cleeves Condensed Milk Factory open daily from 12 - 5pm.