I’ve always been interested in portraying some kind of fantasy, then showing that it’s completely constructed. There are always dark messages hidden behind beauty, and the act of sculpting is about listening to that inner voice that warns you about something lurking beneath the surface.
Gagosian is pleased to present Secrets, an exhibition of new work by Rachel Feinstein. This is Feinstein’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.
In richly detailed sculptures and multipart installations, Feinstein considers the sumptuous materiality of historical European luxury, updating its refined surfaces and edges with a gritty and approximate excess. Borrowing freely from Baroque and Rococo sculpture, religious iconography, Romantic landscapes, and mainstream media, she explores issues of taste and desire, synthesizing visual and societal opposites such as romance and pornography, elegance and kitsch, the marvelous and the utterly banal.
Secrets consists of new sculptures, wallpaper, and paintings in which Feinstein cannibalizes notions of beauty, belief, and spectacle to reveal perfection as a form of burlesque. The Secrets is a series of eight large-scale sculptures that reflects on the Victoria’s Secret phenomenon, with its trademark “Angels” in their jaw-dropping lingerie costumes—dressed as butterflies, firebirds, baby dolls, snow queens, and more—strutting their stuff at the brand’s annual fashion extravaganza that is broadcast to millions of ogling fans worldwide. Feinstein’s figures have been scaled up in hard foam from small clay maquettes, then individual hues applied piece by piece in hand-colored epoxy resins.
Following standard Renaissance proportions, five of The Secrets are rendered at just above human scale, and three smaller figures are placed on tall plinths, thrusting forward in mid-stride. But, instead of the ideal curves of classical figures or the equally unattainable lines of their contemporary runway prototypes, Feinstein opts for something far more mortal. The Secrets mutate, deliquesce, and bulge, as she trowels on chunks of clay and epoxy, unconcerned with either verisimilitude or refinement. Titled after their costumes, Bandleader holds up a large, white-gloved hand; Butterfly, teetering in heels, leans forward to blow a kiss; and Ballerina tilts her smeared rainbow face towards her raised arm, pinup style. Here, the priceless, gem-encrusted bras and lacy thongs that feed the Victoria’s Secret myth deflate into muddy neon pastes and visceral tangles, debunking the multibillion-dollar American lingerie brand as a mess of filthy lucre.
Secrets also includes mirror-paintings of luxury homes and cars, as well as a collaged wallpaper that pairs found images of modern West Coast architecture with details from eighteenth-century wallpaper depicting lush, Arcadian gardens. This immersive environment further highlights the distorting effects of consumer desire, wherein real, breathing bodies are displaced by the intoxicating fumes of costly commodities.
Rachel Feinstein at Chatsworth
A new sculpture by Rachel Feinstein has been unveiled on the grounds of Chatsworth, the celebrated Derbyshire estate, where Feinstein recently spent time as Gucci’s inaugural artist in residence. Alice Godwin tells the story of how it came to be.
Rachel Feinstein: Frieze Sculpture
Rachel Feinstein speaks about her outdoor installation for Frieze Sculpture 2018—a set of four majolica sculptures, inspired by Franz Anton Bustelli’s Rococo commedia dell’arte figurines.
Rachel Feinstein Brings Rome to Paris
Rachel Feinstein speaks to Gagosian’s Angela Brown about “bringing Rome to Paris,” for her exhibition at Le Mur.
Monday, June 3, 2019, 5:30–6:30pm
Gagosian Shop, New York
Rachel Feinstein will be signing copies of her new book, Secrets, at the Gagosian Shop in New York. Secrets documents Feinstein’s 2018 exhibition at Gagosian, Beverly Hills, which included a series of oversize, flamboyantly colored sculptures of women inspired by the Victoria’s Secret “Angels,” as well as mirror paintings, majolica sculptures, and a panoramic wallpaper that allude to both the European decorative arts and West Coast modernist luxury. A sculptural object in its own right, the book unites these distinct bodies of work—along with an essay by curator Pamela Golbin and a conversation between Feinstein and designer Tom Ford—within a single Z-fold cover, which features a cutout doorway that embodies the dichotomies present in the artist’s work. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Feinstein: Secrets (New York: Gagosian, 2019)