San Francisco, CA 94107
Altman Siegel is pleased to present new works addressing the mask as an identity construct by legendary Feminist artist Lynn Hershman Leeson.
“The mask has always been a way to hide one’s own vulnerability. Today, masks are interfaces that mutate through connectivity, merging the past and present through use.”
- Lynn Hershman Leeson in an E-mail to author Andreas Beitin, August 13, 2014.
In this presentation Lynn Hershman Leeson applies a 2020 filter to her ever-evolving aesthetic, in this case, new works on paper of masked women, which were made during, and directly reference, the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. These drawings are new, yet they follow conceptual trajectories clearly defined from the earliest stages of her practice. In these works, Hershman Leeson thematizes the socially relevant development of masks, updating and extending their significance as symbols of an archetype or an avatar. A theme that she has been exploring since 1965. As Hershman Leeson’s work regularly operates in anticipation of social change, rather than as a reaction to it, her work consistently exists as if in a state of sociopolitical and intellectual preparation.
Aesthetically, the primarily figurative works appear effortlessly rendered in the artist’s signature mark-making approach and feature open compositions that embrace negative space and poetic connections between shapes and lines within the compositions. Subtle color and collage elements activate the compositional arrangements and line renderings. The works resonate with a playful energy and a masterfully light touch. While her works can and do pursue dark and serious conditions, they always maintain an honest and approachable sense of humor and humanity.
Lynn Hershman Leeson has received significant international acclaim for her art and films. She is recognized for her decades of innovative work investigating and articulating issues that are now clearly identifiable as key mechanisms of society, such as relationships between humans and technology, identity constructs, surveillance, and the harnessing of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression. Looking back at her practice reveals a vivid sense of premonition, which speaks to the keen insight she has developed with every project.