The young artist Venetia Berry has designs on the female form. Her stated intent is to ‘reverse the male gaze’; to subvert the traditional framing device through which we experience a woman’s naked body in art and provide an alternative view.
Inspired by the line of Matisse, the colours of Krasner, the serendipity of the Dada movement, her works embody a deceptive simplicity that captured Alex Eagle’s attention.
Of course, Eagle had been keeping an eye on Berry for a while – “she’s my goddaughter, so I’ve seen her talent grow since she was a teenager.” But there was no nepotism involved in bringing her pieces into the studio. “They affect everyone in a positive way,” says Eagle. “There is a freedom to her work, an elegant looseness that really resonates with people.”
For Berry, this collection has been a chance to try something new. “What I love about etching is that it often sparks a whole new way of working. As the etching is technically printed back to front, the print is always a surprise, and this idea of chance has always fascinated me.”
The group of chine-collé prints combine Berry’s signature abstracted female form, all eyes and ovals, with blocks and splashes of vivid colour. Lovingly informed by Matisse’s cut outs, the coloured accents add dynamism to the pared back drawing, echoing and contrasting with the figure at the centre.
Berry says, “I adore the work of Matisse. I will always be striving to achieve the balance between complexity and simplicity as he so easily does.”