«Ladies Only» is a reaction exhibition. An amusing response to Jacques Villeglé’s exhibition, « Jeune, Gay et Impudique », and his series of sexy posters from the late 1980s, relating to the prurient Pink Minitel period and its miscellaneous 36 15-prefix coded gateway points to various directories including sex-related ones. With the provocative and garish aesthetic of the advertisements of the time, with girls’ open mouths and flaunted breasts, « Ladies Only » answers by choosing to put the women really forward, those of the gallery and other guests, and by presenting a selection of works from 1988 to the present that explore the question of desire from a completely different viewpoint.
With modesty, humor, restraint if not elegance, without apparent excess – or almost. A set of visions in a range of possible, minus pretentious demonstrations. Here, the works are not so easy to view. It is necessary to move around the lenticular photographs of Pilar Albarracín, which show the Spanish artist, with her authoritarian and severe air, in a corseted stripping session. It is required to lose oneself in the details of Bianca Argimón’s drawn imaginary scenes, recounting in a singular manner the condition of women and modern men. One must decipher the signs and the hidden meaning of Aurélie Gravas’ colorful compositions, that all speak in their own way of Love and Art. It is important to distinguish the profiles, the faces and the diaphanous forms that characterize the strength of the painting of Vivian Greven. It is essential to flush out the intruders in the small, falsely naive canvases of Lauren Coullard, who takes pleasure in having fun with rules, eras and genres.
« Ladies Only » could have been called « Nanas », in tribute to the original one, Niki de Saint Phalle, an historical artist of the gallery included in the exhibition. « Ladies Only » is a misleading title; if women are alone at the controls, the men are no less present, or represented. Drawn here, carved there, their image is embraced. Nothing censored or forbidden on this side of the rue de Seine either. Neither boudoir nor gynoecium, « Ladies Only » is a space where desire fl ows in all its forms. A fantasy place where breasts spit milk and oil, where blouses open, where water regenerates, where mouths seek each other in a shades of green and pink and where dice throw themselves towards and ideal and dreamy quotidian. « Ladies Only » – but not only.