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|The Washer Women|
Rokeby is pleased to be announce the second of Claire Pestaille's solo exhibitions at the gallery.
Pestaille seeks intimacy and understanding, of both the history of painting and its subjects. Through strategies of appropriation, that mix contemporary and historical references from both art and literature, the artist maintains a synthesis of past and present which celebrates an aesthetics beyond the ordinary and the magic of fantasy.
Positioned amongst her portraits and scenes sourced from art history, hang dedications to Pestaille from authors such as Oscar Wilde, Robert L. Stevenson and Louis Carroll. And it may come as no surprise that Pestaille links herself mythically to these, and others who have created parallel universes and alternate worlds. In literature such worlds are created to enable the author to introduce a protagonist from one reality to another; similarly in her paintings Pestaille acts as a time traveller, intervening with history whilst creating new narratives.
A development to the appendages and revisions that Pestaille makes to historical paintings is the devise of cropping images. As if cut from another canvas the artist presents sliced bodies and headless torsos as if in an acknowledgement that these images have come from reproductions, cut from books and analysed through a viewfinder. At once she acknowledges that history is taught to us through filters but that it can be magically interceded. Furthermore Pestaille's subjects are regularly female and as such she can be seen as questioning the artistic conventions of portraying women throughout art history, and like many of her female predecessors her recreated female lives can be read within a feminist subtext.
Included in the exhibition are a number of recent collages that splice found images - often from fine art auction catalogues - to create new characters, relationships and meanings in a similar manner to the artist's paintings. The intimacy with her characters enables Pestaille to create new lives and histories for them, which initiate an open-ended conversation between past and present that points as much to paintings history as it does its future.
Claire Pestaille graduated from the Royal College of art in 2000 and has exhibited internationally since. She was selected for this years Jerwood Contemporary Painters touring exhibition and her work will be included in Painting at Chelsea 1990 - 2006 curated by Clyde Hopkins early next year. Her work is in numerous international collections including the Saatchi Collection and Zabludowitz Collection.