Tate Liverpool presents the first solo exhibition in the UK of work by Romanian artist, Geta Brătescu (b. 1926). Since the 1960s Brătescu’s work has encompassed drawing, sewing, print-making, performance, film and installation, and this exhibition will present highlights from her remarkable body of work.
Brătescu studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Bucharest, in the late 1940s, but was expelled before completing the course due to intervention from the newly dominant Communist party. Having worked primarily as an illustrator and animator although still exhibiting her own work, in 1969 Brătescu returned to university and, as a fine art student once more, had access to a shared studio space. When back at the Academy her practice became more experimental, and she found in the studio a precious resource which she saw as a space to redefine the self. Nowhere is this more present than in the seminal film, The Studio (L'Atelierul) 1978, in which the artist's performative actions define the studio space, which in turn determines her bodily gestures, and is a key work in the exhibition.
Also on display will be a recent acquisition to the Tate collection, Hands: For the eye, the hand of my body reconstitutes my portrait 1975, a film piece that emphasises the relationship between performance and drawing, and the creation of space and identity. Classical drawings of hands made in the early 1970s will be shown alongside this, revealing Brătescu’s impressive skills as a draughtswoman.
Brătescu also worked with textiles, sometimes with fragments of cloth left to her by her mother. In the 1980s she made a series of important textile works that she described as ‘drawing with a sewing machine’ including Hypostases of Medea VIII and IX 1980, the subject of which was the Greek mythological character who, in the Euripides play of the same name, kills her children to punish her husband's betrayal, thereby confounding traditional expectations of a wife/mother figure. Works from the series made around Medea, which include lithographs, drawings and textile works, show Bratescu’s fascination with this conflicted character.
In recent years Brătescu’s practice has focused on collage, or ‘drawing with scissors’ as the artist describes it. The exhibition will feature the ongoing series of paper cut-outs Game of Forms (Jeu des Formes), as well as a new site-specific collage conceived of for the windows of Tate Liverpool’s Wolfson Gallery. Showcasing the artist’s work across a variety of media, this exhibition reveals Geta Brătescu’s singular vision across five decades, and her dedication to the drawn line.
Geta Brătescu is programmed in parallel with special exhibitions Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots and Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions. It is curated by Eleanor Clayton, an independent curator, and Lauren Barnes, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool.