Best known for her works depicting beautifully dressed women wielding construction tools, Reemtsen addresses the paradoxes of being a woman in today's world. Reemtsen's work expresses uncomfortable truths surrounding issues of gender inequality with power, poise and elegance. In these prints, strength and beauty not only coexist but enhance one another.
Cropped at the shoulders, Reemtsen's headless women remain anonymous and, importantly, universal. She draws the figures, dresses and props from her life in her Los Angeles studio. Family and friends are her models and she uses her extensive collection of vintage fashion to dress them. Reemtsen draws on her own life experiences and those close to her for inspiration.
Reemtsen spends a lot of time in London because she appreciates its strong printmaking culture and has strong personal connections to the city. For her, showing her work in London is of particular importance:
"I believe the value of women in England, similar to the US, is of lower value to men. Women are no longer second-class citizens but aren't equal to men either. My aim is to continue my crusade into London, my crusade being equal rights for equal work. It should be simple but it's not. Why are we still talking about this and when will things change?"– Kelly Reemtsen
Reemtsen's graphic works recall the purpose of early printmaking, to share a message. This revolutionary undertone is energised by the inherent beauty and delicacy of the imagery and proliferated by the technical proficiency of printing.
Many of the works are a combination of several different processes – woodcut, screenprint and etching – layered to create depth and give her figures substance. These prints are tactile and inviting. Some are hand-colouring after the printing process to pick out jewel-like details; bracelet beads or the glittering chain on a saw. Reemtsen has studied printmaking since the 1990s and undertaken residencies across the world, from Venice, Italy, to New Hampshire and most recently Advanced Graphics, a print studio in South London. Reemtsen has taken a space in Woolwich, South London, to work from this autumn.
Reemtsen's delight in depicting candied colours and feminine forms is balanced by the seriousness of her call to action and a very real need for change.
The gallery will run printmaking workshops with the artist throughout the course of the show. A deluxe edition of the exhibition catalogue containing a new print will be available.