Gathering, Warwick St
24 January – 4 March 2023
Mounted onto curved walls, monumental paintings cover the entrance of Gathering. Standing in front of these paintings by Peruvian artist Wynnie Mynerva calls forth a magnitude and awe at the tension of the work. Violated Bliss I (and II), 2022, refers to a realm of violence and ecstasy whilst at once functioning like two giant arms enveloping the viewer within the space — embraced or asphyxiated?
A small opening in between the paintings leads to a further darker space. Suspended in the air is a naked figure with seemingly infinite hair reaching the floor. Their gaze seems fixed with dark dilated pupils. Their skin shines and glows, almost as if the body was covered in oil. Are they human or robotic? I notice the rhythm of their moving ribs, and the mark on one side. This mark stands for the memory of myths around bodies and creation. Not only is the body real, but it in fact is Mynerva who ascends mid-air during the duration of the opening. A living sculpture for an evening, Mynerva is a proud non-binary and pansexual artist.
Because of this, the title of the show Bones of My Bones: Flesh of My Flesh points to topics deeply personal to Mynerva: physicality and gender construction. In Genesis 2.23 there is a passage that directly references the creation of the first woman: “this one at last is bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman, For from man was she taken.” This Western allegory of how the first woman was created from the ribs of man stands for a patriarchal mode of thinking.
Further paintings are hung on the wall with thick layers of paint constructing contorted figures. A scent of oil persists around the painting First Naked Glory, 2022, which seem to have come straight out of the studio. The bodies on the canvas distantly recall Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, seminal figures in the history of modern Western painting; yet the figures of Mynerva are animated and twisted reacting to and subverting this given art historical ‘canon’.
The exhibition continues downstairs. Two Bodies Touch on the Same Shore I (and II), 2022, give a grandiose finale to this exhibition. They are hung to construct a ramp, separated by a red vinyl on the floor. The palette of darker and lighter pinks blends in the greys and blacks developing the rhythm of composition. It gives contrast and strength to figures that Wynnie Mynerva paints with large brush strokes. Like in a skateboard park, their circularity reference the symbolic order of moving between binaries. The ramp offers freedom from the rigid impositions of a patriarchal way of thinking that Mynerva so brilliantly refuses.
Ilaria Puri Purini
Curator of National Programmes
5 Warwick St, London W1B 5LU
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 11.00 – 18.00
Exhibition open unitl 4 March 2023