21 September - 15 November
The representation of sex and eroticism has varied greatly throughout art history; since the creation of the Paleolithic Venus to Jeff Koons and his Banality series, erotic art has forced the viewer to face with an unfiltered perspective of sex and the scandalous. Mirat Projects showcases works by established artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andre Derain, David Salle, Bert Stern or Robert Mapplethorpe, who invite you to reflect along emerging artists such as Miranda Makaroff, Carla Cascales or Mei Morettini, and artistic creations from other cultures/periods such as "shunga" illustrations or African sculptures from the 19th century carved in wood.
An engraving by Picasso or a woodcut by Katsushika Hokusai does not intend to just represent the nakedness of the explicit models or scenes, but rather constitutes a discourse on the theme itself, making something as hidden or repressed very much visible. In order to understand Erotic stories it would not be right to chronologically track the representations of art and sex, since from the beginnings, individuals felt the need to illustrate sex and its characteristics without coverup - whether by a religious reason, magical attributions, empowerment, lewd, or simple representation. Always varying in its symbolism and intention, it is important to consider the way in which we have consumed this type of art, and the way in which the viewer has been connecting in a different way to these works.
In this exhibition, past works are confronted with contemporary pieces, and it makes obvious that there has not been a gradual progression in terms of the representation of sex in art, instead, there has been a series of artistic movements spread throughout of history, which have assumed more and more freedom when dealing with this issue. A clear example are the "shunga" illustrations, framed in the popular school of ukiyo-e (paintings of the floating world), that was developed between the XVII and XX century and that sought to represent explicit sexual scenes of all kinds, not on a vulgar or obscene way, but to celebrate an innate act of Nature in a refined and sensitive way. This show has four works by the great artists Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusai, Chokyosai Eiri, Utagawa Kuniyosh framed in the nineteenth century that served as inspiration for many artists. Precisely, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso, painters whom are also part of this exhibition, were collectors of "shunga" and were inspired by them for some of their works. Picasso, also great collector and amateur of African art, took this primitivism as a reference when creating, especially the figures and masks of Senufo women, which can be seen juxtaposed to the work of the artist, inviting to contemplation. Other artists that can be found in Erotic Stories illustrate perfectly the open-mindedness and sexual liberation that was forged in New York during the 80s. David Salle, Robert Mapplethorpe and Bert Stern show, each in their own way, how they got rid of the socio-cultural ties of those years, being pioneers in the sexual artistic liberation of taboo topics such as female sexuality itself or homosexuality, which they recreated freely, with photography as the central axis.
The pieces exhibited by younger artists such as the artistic duo Mei Morettini, Dildo & Barbie Dolls, as well as the piece Traffic by the Swiss artist MARCK, use modern elements (a screen, a rubber dildo or a barbie) to critique today's culture relationship with sex, and how consumerism has commodified sex transforming it into a product. Carla Cascales and Miranda Makaroff add a feminine vision to the female sexuality representation, that something that has been silenced during decades, being interpreted most occasions from the masculine perspective, being shown in a playful and uninhibited way.
Erotic Stories guides the viewer, through the different works that compose it, towards a unitary vision of art, sex and artists that use this theme, arguing that it is impossible to dedicate a linear reading to them in time, but that it should be considered in what specific way the relationship between the spectator and the erotic art has evolved.