Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Nancy Spero

The Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens is playing host to the first major presentation of Nancy Spero’s work since her death in 2009. Her work is fascinating partly for its breadth of identities and characters: from the Celtic goddess of fertility with legs akimbo, to 50s pin-ups, to Medusa, to Artemis Artaud, the lunatic/nihilist/misogynist, a seemingly incongruous cast of oddities are brought together. It might seem strange that Spero, the strident feminist and anti-war activist, could champion such an anti-hero as Artaud, but this is only to testament her great artistic intuition; her ability to mute the intellectual for the human in creating great art. It is this aspect that comes across most strongly in the Serpentine exhibition, for although Spero was a critical and passionate political commentator, her work communicates on many other levels, be it immediately visual, emotional or humorous. The paradigmatic shift from traditional feminism has endangered many overtly feminist artists: it is proof of Spero’s art that her work remains as vital and entertaining today as it ever has been. Take a trip to the Serpentine Gallery before May 3rd and see for yourself.

Joe Stevens


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