Laura Lancaster’s recent portraits of women in silhouettes and mirrors are based upon found anonymous analogue photographs collected by the artist.
Selected from ‘bad’ and ‘accidental’ images Lancaster purposefully restages the imagery as powerful, provocative investigations of the male gaze. Through the Shadow series figures are further reduced to an abstracted object, Lancaster’s loose and gestural impasto paintwork echoing the heroic male painters of the 20th Century (DeKooning, Baselitz, Bacon, Auerbach…) and pushing the image further towards the corporeal and closer to the physical mud-like substance of paint.
Lancaster references the problematic contemporary debate around the politics of the veil, as well as the historical idea of the Golem in Jewish mythology – a creature created from mud, but with the potential to be more powerful, and chaotic, than its creator. Her new paintings of figures in mirrors draw upon the history of the Vanitas. Implying the mythologies of Medusa and Narcissus these works also reference the occult practice of Scrying – looking into a reflective surface in order to obtain visions, which may provide guidance inspiration or revelation. In these images Lancaster depicts the figures as gazing into the mirrors, locked in an ambiguous, unsolved moment, longing for themselves.
Through her work Lancaster confronts the implicit fantasy within the voyeuristic and presents us with an uncompromising and brutal reflection of our base desires.