Richard Saltoun Gallery presents the first UK exhibition of Tomaso BINGA (b. 1931, Salerno, Italy) and Greta SCHÖDL (b. 1929, Hollabrunn, Austria), bringing together two octogenarian female artists both working in the fields of visual poetry since the 1960s.
Binga and Schödl are regarded as female pioneers of the Poesía Visuale movement, and both incorporate text to conjure a unique visual language, which they developed to assert their identity as women artists.
Schödl moved to Bologna in the late 50s, where women artists were a rarity. After marrying Dino Gavina; designer and friend of Lucio Fontana, she ceased her practice for seven years to raise a family. In over five decades Schödl produced an extensive oeuvre, and now aged 89, she continues to work in her Bologna studio.
Schödl’s delicate and intricate works scale from postcard size to over 3 meters long. On the flat plane, geometric forms and bold colours are interwoven with written words, repeated obsessively until they appear abstract. Gold leaf, wire and thread are fused onto different surfaces; handmade paper, books, personal letters; and strangely familiar materials often associated with the domestic female role like ironing boards and pillow slips. The results are otherworldly, mystical compositions embezzled with simple language and homely materials; as if Schödl’s domestic world transcends to another place, through her captivating material language.
Italian artist Tomaso Binga is the alter ego of Bianca Menna; who changed her name to a male pseudonym to disguise her sexual identity and make a parody of the cultural privileges reserved for male artists. Since the 1970s Binga has been a driving force of avant-garde feminism; working in a multi-disciplinary practice engaging performance, film, painting, collage and poetry. Her work was recently included in the group show TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli guarda la Rai (TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli watches the Rai), curated by Francesco Vezzoli at Fondazione Prada in 2017.
Binga’s ‘Typecode’ works of the late 70s comprise typewritten letters and symbols which are repeated and overlaid to result in obscured, abstract graphic compositions. Much like the decision to change her name as a mark of liberation; Binga’s coded geometric diagrams represent a language freed from the restrictions of a male-dominated society; as letters of the alphabet are rearticulated to manifest a new aesthetic language. Her 1970s ‘Body Alphabet’ collages show each letter of the alphabet, drawn in different fonts, with an associative word and collaged photographs of a female nude in different poses. In the 70s Binga would perform these words, using her body and voice to project her new independent language. In doing so, she revolts from the constraints of gender and sexuality; replacing it with a radical and performative rhetoric, made up of sounds, gestures and signs. Binga’s ‘Pop Alphabet’ was recently displayed in Corpo a corpo / Body to body, curated by Paola Ugolini, at The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, 2017.
The exhibition at Richard Saltoun curated by Paola Ugolini will present a selection of important works dating from the 1970s.