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Tuesday 8th February 2022

Paula Rego, Donna Huanca, Sutapa Biswas

— Arnolfini
Join us for our Spring 2022 programme, with exhibitions across our galleries, Reading Room, Light and Dark Studios
price: Headfirst Tickets


“Arnolfini launch their spring series with Paula Rego’s experimental prints on femme-centred foklore and an immerse installation by ‘skin painter’ Donna Huanca.”
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Paula Rego : Subversive Stories
Arnolfini welcome you to venture into the extraordinary imagination of Dame Paula Rego RA, one of the leading figurative contemporary artists of our time.

Rego makes a welcome return to Bristol (almost 40 years after her first exhibition here in 1982-83), creating an opportunity for a new generation of visitors to discover the artist’s rich and imaginative world. Featuring over 80 prints from across Rego’s extensive career, the exhibition explores her interweaving wit and dark humour, delving into the art of storytelling through Rego’s reinterpretations of well-known narratives and classic tales, repositioning the role of women at their centre.

Subversive Stories also looks deeper at Rego’s mastery of the printed medium, revealing the process of printmaking as it informs Rego’s multi-layered interpretations, bringing shadowy readings to childish mischief, whilst casting a light on present-day politics, most notably those affecting women.

Bringing together early examples of experiments in etching and lithography, her much-loved series Nursery Rhymes, Peter Pan, Jane Eyre and the Pendle Witches, and less familiar stories, such as The Prince Pig and The Curved Planks, Rego pulls us into a world of not so ‘wicked’ women, childhood adventure, folklore and fairy tales, in which the underdog reigns supreme, as Rego reinforces her reputation, taking ‘the side of the beauty not the beast.’

*Please note this exhibition includes images that explore sexuality, abortion, and the practice of female genital mutilation.
Donna Huanca : CUEVA DE COPAL
Arnolfini are excited to present CUEVA DE COPAL, a new and immersive site-specific installation by Donna Huanca, a celebrated, rising star of the international art world.

Drawing on painting, sculpture, performance, choreography, video, and sensory interventions, Huanca’s interdisciplinary practice focuses upon the human body, exploring our physical relationship to the world around us.

Huanca builds her experiential installations around the architecture of each new site, with CUEVA DE COPAL plunging audiences into a cocoon-like space. Encouraging audiences to reflect upon their environment, the installation integrates ideas explored through previous installations, in which Huanca has transformed the masonic temple of Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, the early-18th century palace of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, and the high desert landscape surrounding the Ballroom Marfa in Texas.

Building on past remnants of her own work, Huanca excavates and layers, transforming her live ‘skin’ paintings into new multi-layered and hybrid forms that sit somewhere between performance, sculpture, photography, and painting. Explored within the darkness of CUEVA DE COPAL, these bodily forms take on new lives enhanced by sound, scent, and texture.

Donna’s new commission brings this acclaimed artist to Bristol and the south west for the first time as part of Arnolfini’s commitment to showcasing the best contemporary artists of each generation.

Sutapa Biswas : Arnolfini at 60

Dark Studio, Gallery 5, Reading Room

Sutapa Biswas (b. 1962), is a British Indian artist, whose work is recognised nationally and internationally. Her art engages with questions of identity, race and gender in relation to time, space and history. Her works are inspired by oral histories, literature and art history. She is particularly interested in the ways in which larger historical narratives collide with personal narratives.

Biswas was included in two exhibitions that toured to Arnolfini in the 1990s, both of which played an important role in promoting de-colonial discourses within British art: The Circular Dance, in 1991, an exhibition of British Asian women artists; and Disrupted Borders, in 1993, curated by Sunil Gupta, which sought to escape the European rhetoric of modernism with a ‘new internationalism’ approach. Arnolfini is delighted to invite her back in our sixtieth anniversary year, to present new and existing work: Magnesium Bird (2004), a film work created as a poetic and ritualised response to the death of the artist’s Father; and Zoo – Edge of the Indian Ocean, 20.1990° S, 57.7823° E (2021), a new painting, commissioned by Arnolfini, which overlaps botanic and colonial histories in Mauritius.

The Periphery

Light Studio

Arnolfini are excited to share new work by students from UWE Bristol’s Art, Design and Photography courses, in response to the major exhibition: Stephen Gill: Coming up for Air – A Retrospective. Gill’s interest in ‘the periphery’ – the outer limits of an idea or environment, is the focus of students’ responses to Gill’s rich and expansive photographic career. The work spans an eclectic variety of media, presented through a series of independent projects. Responses explore Gill’s own method of working, which often involved pursuing an idea over a sustained period of time asking how we might view the world around us from different perspectives.

The Periphery is a collaboration between Arnolfini, The School of Art and Design and ACE Faculty Technical Learning at UWE Bristol.

Artist Audio:

Paula Rego