Labelled a feminist artist at a time when “feminism” was still a dirty word, Ellen Cantor is known for autobiographical narratives expressed through fictional female protagonists. She rose to prominence in her two hometowns of London and New York in the 1990s before dying of lung cancer in 2013. This snapshot of her all-too-short career features paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures spanning an 18-year period. From the early 1990s are three sculptures resembling primitive female icons; made from crushed cans, feathers, nails, wood and sequins, they look like something a teenage girl could assemble in her bedroom. Paired with the painting Untitled (Alice in Wonderland), a delicate and gestural depiction of Alice menaced by a skull looming over her shoulder, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that Cantor studied Disney films and fairytales as part of her practice. Among the later pieces are pencil works that demonstrate Cantor’s ease in drawing from classical art history to surreptitiously depict female sexuality and empowerment. Times have changed, but for an evocative look at what it meant to be a feminist artist in the 1990s, this exhibitionis well worth a visit.
Through Mar 24