Cob Gallery is pleased to present three new drawings, to complete a series of six by Nina Mae Fowler. Created at a smaller scale, LOVE IV, V VI follow on from LOVE I, II, III which were exhibited as part of Fowler’s solo exhibition ‘If You Don’t Want My Peaches (You Better Stop Shaking The Tree)’, in 2019 at the gallery.
The LOVE series is drawn from stills from the film A Blonde In Love (also known as Loves of A Blonde) 1965, by director Milos Forman. It’s considered one of the most significant examples of Czech New Wave cinema.
Fowler depicts three frames from a post coital scene in the movie - focussing on the representation of an ambiguous gender struggle. The female character is a factory worker based in a remote part of Czecholsvlakia. A dance between the young female factory workers and army is organised. Following the dance, a young musician seemingly exploits the young girl’s naivety - coercing her into bed. Fowler has become fascinated by the awkwardness that ensues between the characters in the scene - a casual encounter for the male and something more emotional for the female. For the artist, this scene represents a well versed stereotype. Furthermore, she has selected this film as her source material in celebration of its spellbinding cinematography - one of the reasons the film has secured such cult status. As always, Fowler’s drawings are an homage to the technical surface allure of the cinematic experience.
To highlight the ambiguity in the scene, Fowler has contrasted two drawing techniques - interrupting the photographic precision of the graphite representation with a gestural oil pastel mark created during the tracing process. This collision of technique, between the academically precise, and the minimally abstract, signifies that ‘all is not what it seems’ and that the scene is fraught with submerged anxieties centring on sexual exploitation and gendered power struggle. The artist also states that she is “claiming” the photographic renderings “back as drawings” with the freedom of using a far more unpredictable method of mark making, layered on top of the more laboured process underneath.
LOVE IV, V VI are currently available unframed - please enquire for framing.
It was Love that first struck me to the core.Prologue by Her Honour Judge Maureen Bacon Q.C.
That is not me in rapture to the power of a greater good. It is how I reacted immediately on seeing the first of Nina Mae Fowler’s, “Love”, drawings: her portrayal of a male hand on a female neck- a picture not so much about love as the absence of it.
Cinema has been chief amongst the promulgators of normalising abuse in the most insidious form. On film, the male studio bosses of old Hollywood confirmed the objectification of women with their female Stars presenting a super- sexualised ideal of feminine beauty. Off camera, those same bosses often preyed on the vulnerabilities of those same female Stars, discarding them ruthlessly once their youth and commercial worth were past.
None of us will see these works in the same way or even agree about the origins of female abuse and subjugation but on one aspect I am confident we will all reach accord: that they were created by one possessed of a vividly enquiring mind, equalled only by her astonishing masterly technique. That is Nina Mae Fowler. She has a lot to say. Now go listen with your eyes.
LOVE I, II, IIIIf You Don’t Want My Peaches (You Better Stop Shaking The Tree) Installation views