PLASTIC DOESN'T SWEAT: A Debut Solo Show by Elsa Rouy | It's 2020 For F*ck Sake – A Thirteen Artist, Back-to-Back Solo Exhibition Marathon
This exhibition uses humour to focus on two sides of intimacy, emotional and physical, and how they correspond to experiences of dependency, shielding, and liberation.
Featuring four paintings alongside hanging latex suits, this exhibition uses humour to focus on two sides of intimacy, emotional and physical, and how they correspond to experiences of dependency, shielding, and liberation. The characters that are presented within the paintings each display their own emotion. The two paintings, “Spout Out and Splash About” and “Tugging Each Other’s Ego Straps” feature figures who look out from the canvas, creating eye contact and smiling grotesquely, thus incorporating the viewer within the scene. “Falsifying Catharsis” and “Bring a Bucket and a Mop” contrast this notion of incorporation by completely excluding the viewer from the scene, creating an intimacy between the characters on the canvas. The viewer becomes a voyeur rather than a participant.
The name of the exhibition “Plastic Doesn’t Sweat” refers to strap-on suits that resemble human sexual organs and the confusing dynamic between realness and falsity, as well as that between mind and body. The body fluids seen throughout, especially the ones seen on the latex sculptures that hang from the ceiling, are used to contrast illness and infection with vitality and their connection to our shared experience of being human.
Elsa Rouy is an artist from Sittingbourne, Kent who now lives and works in London; she is currently completing her BA Hons in Painting at Camberwell College of the Arts. Rouy creates artwork that founded in a female gaze on sex, its anxiety, and its pleasure: she focuses on moments at the intersection of intimacy and sexuality, interested in the dialogue between subject and surrounding. She plays with depictions of female and male genitalia, making paintings of figures with their sexual organs revealed and using genitalia as a way to navigate anxieties that come with having, and being conscious of, a body.
The paintings also explore themes of emotional pretense and trepidation between people, highlighted through sexual intercourse. Her work focuses on bodily fluids such as semen, milk, urine, sweat, and saliva, using this imagery to highlight our paradoxical relationship to sex and its products – we find it at once repulsive and alluring. In addition to this, these fluids probe the link between pleasure, death, and reproduction.
Elsa’s main aim is to include the viewer as a voyeuristic counterpart within an erotic scene that feels personal rather than pornographic. Ensnaring the viewer with an initial feeling of comfort, intrigue, and excitement, then permeating this security with a subconscious reaction of repulsion and uneasiness.
Guts Gallery and Soft Punk Magazine are proud to collaboratively present “It's 2020 For F*ck Sake”, a thirteen artist, back-to-back solo exhibition marathon, running from 24 September 2020 to 21 December 2020, first in a railway arch under Haggerston Station, and now with a return to lockdown, online through VR content.
Born from a desire to refuse the conditions of silence, paralysis, and erasure brought on by our current social and political climate, this exhibition series has been conceived as a means of exhibiting some of the most promising practitioners of the new generation, creating space for display, experimentation, and artistic ownership in an otherwise compromising market.
Actively aware of the scarcity of shows for underrepresented emerging artists, each artist exhibiting has been given full license over the space. However, this is an exhibition marathon founded in community — while each artist has a solo show, the broader ethos is one of collaboration, accessibility, progress, and collective shouldering of one another.
Once more returning to “lockdown” as of Thursday, 5th November, the remainder of the solo exhibitions will be launched and viewed through virtual reality, a viewing room via Guts’ upcoming Artlogic website and of course, Instagram. All of these platforms will be made live at the same time each week on the date the private views were due to take place. We would like viewers to engage with the works as you would in our physical space, curating an environment specific to each show and artist.
At a moment when the arts sector is on the brink of a major crisis, we are committed to continue putting our community first, paying fair wages, and providing sustained support for artists in any way we can.