The paintings of Clare Woods (b. 1972, Southampton, UK) are essentially concerned with sculpting an image in paint, and expressing the strangeness of an object. Originally trained as a sculptor, much of Woods’ work is an exploration of physical form. This understanding of sculptural language and a preoccupation with forms in space, translated into two-dimensional images, underpins her pictorial practice.
In much of her previous work, Woods’ concern with landscape has been paramount. However, since 2011 her images have been increasingly preoccupied with conveying the human form. Allied to this change in subject-matter, which has affected her way of working, is a shift in the process of sourcing imagery. In her new paintings the source material is no longer the artist’s own landscape photography, but instead she draws inspiration from found sources: books, the internet, photographic records of work by other artists and press photographs, especially those shot in black and white.
Much of Woods' recent work is concerned with fragility, vulnerability, mortality and disability; the delicate border that exists between sickness and health, cruelty and humanity, and ultimately life and death. Perhaps this explains why bodies come to mind even when the images are not directly about them. Despite the varying degrees of brightly coloured abstraction and compositional distortions, Woods’ anthropomorphic studies bring to mind heads, limbs and torsos. It is like seeing the body through a distorted lens, defamiliarising and estranging it.
Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present Grayscale, a group exhibition featuring selected works in shades of grey. Since the early Renaissance period, the ‘grisaille’ technique has been used by artists to imitate the look of sculpture in paintings executed entirely in shades of grey. Grayscale investigates the ways in which grey continues to capture the fascination of a new generation of artists. Uniting diverse visual languages that encompass a range of artistic expressions, these works renew and challenge how we perceive the colour grey, articulating the complexity of a colour that is both contemplative and poetic.
Mira Dancy, France-Lise McGurn & Clare Woods
Simon Lee Gallery, New York, is pleased to announce a group exhibition featuring new works by Mira Dancy, France-Lise McGurn, and Clare Woods. Connected through an interest in figurative representation, the exhibition brings together three artists who present the body in unconventional ways, each exploring contemporary issues surrounding gender, sexuality, society and politics, as well as addressing the long and problematic history of the male gaze. The submissive female subject typically depicted reclining, seated or kneeling, is one of the most recognizable motifs in art history. As seen in this exhibition, Dancy, McGurn, and Woods respond to this convention through disparate methods presenting the figure as alternatively dominant, vulnerable, playful, or even androgynous, restoring to their subjects a sense of agency and recontextualizing the trope for our contemporary moment.
Clare Woods: Doublethink
Simon Lee Gallery is proud to announce Doublethink, the first solo exhibition at the London gallery of British artist Clare Woods, who presents new paintings across both gallery floors.
Over the course of a career spanning more than twenty-five years Woods has developed a unique painterly language that is concerned with the moulding of an image in two dimensions. Her early practice as a sculptor continues to inform her exploration of physical form via the materiality of paint. Although at first concerned with landscape, a preoccupation with the human body and its connection to entropic themes of mortality, degeneration and disease has surfaced in the artist’s work. For Woods, the corporeality of her subject matter and the physical element of the paint are inextricably tangled up in one another. In these new works, Woods employs an often-bilious palette that subverts the viewer’s expectations of her virtuoso application of paint on aluminium. Defamiliarising the everyday, Woods probes the boundaries of figuration to challenge her audience’s experiences of fear, anxiety and the fundamentally destructive impulses of humankind.
Clare Woods: Password Revolt
Simon Lee Gallery, New York, is pleased to present Password Revolt, a solo exhibition of new works by British artist Clare Woods. This show marks Woods’s first solo exhibition in New York since 2002 and represents a continuation of the themes addressed in her first exhibition, Rehumanizing, at Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong, in 2018.
Clare Woods: Rehumanised
Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present, for the first time in Asia, an exhibition of new works by London-based artist Clare Woods. For over 15 years Woods’ painting practice has been an exploration of physical form through the materiality of paint. Originally trained as a sculptor, Woods established her reputation with large-scale landscape paintings rendered in enamel on aluminium. Based on photographic source images, her immersive paintings of diverse scale have more recently moved into figurative works rendered in rich hues of oil paint. With an acute understanding of sculptural language, Woods’ interpretations shift between figuration and abstraction imbuing this central tension with volume, weight and interior mystery.