May 26, 2011
through June 25, 2011
NEW YORK, NY (May 3, 2011) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to announce Bailarinas, new works by French-born, Barcelona-based artist Miss Van, in what will be her second solo exhibition at the gallery and first solo show in New York in six years.
Miss Van’s signature aesthetic revolves around sultry female subjects, which she refers to as poupées (or dolls, in French), alluding to elements of fantasy and narrative in her work. Their direct gaze, pouty lips, voluptuous curves and erotic gestures have a provocative appeal—some playful, others dark—emotionally charged and empowered by uninhibited sexuality. ?Miss Van began painting these alluring figures in the streets of Toulouse, France, as a teenager nearly twenty years ago. The characters have since matured along with the artist who now works mainly in the studio, allowing time to refine her imagery through delicate pencil renderings on paper and loose brush strokes on canvas and wood. Recently, Miss Van was invited to participate in Art in the Streets, a major group exhibition currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, California.
Along with her ultra-feminine figures, Miss Van has been known to incorporate animal familiars such as deer, rabbits and foxes. These creatures have a pet-like relationship with the mysterious temptresses who wear doll-like princess dresses or ballerina-tulle skirts with hints of lingerie textures such as corsets, ruffles, lace and fishnet. The women frequently appear topless and often wear masquerade-style masks, as well. Recently, the masks have become less decorative and increasingly more animal-like, adding significance to the dialogue created by the character’s human-animal relationships by amplifying themes of identity, role-play, fetish, and freedom to express the wild (animalistic) side of natural human instinct.
The joie de vivre pleasure principle, innate in French culture, informs much of Miss Van’s body of work. In Bailarinas, a series of pastel works on paper portray isolated figures in nostalgic poses inspired by vintage erotic portraiture. Additional acrylic and mixed media works on canvas and wood panel feature subjects inspired by dancers, driven by the sensually liberating experience of self-expression through physical control and movement of the body. The performance aspect of dance and the act of putting on a seductive show for a viewer or audience reinforces themes of fantasy and desire while also offering an interesting parallel to the artist’s craft, as both are forms of visual storytelling.
Miss Van was born in 1973 in Toulouse, France and is currently based in Barcelona, Spain. In 1991, at the age of 18, the artist started painting the streets of Toulouse as one of the first female artists in the European street art scene. In 1993, Miss Van began to include poupée (doll) figures in her work, her own stylized interpretation of pin-up posed Manga-inspired characters, which would become her signature imagery. In 2003, she left France, re-locating to her current home in Barcelona, Spain. In the years since, her work has been widely published and exhibited in galleries and museums, worldwide.