The Divided Woman brings together three women artists from Cluj, Romania: Teodora Axente, Oana Farcas and Ioana Iacob. The exhibition explores the notion of the representation of 'woman' as an evolving entity composed of separate parts. For many women, the challenge of assuming multiple roles that have to be constantly adapted according to shifting societal norms and personal pressures, engenders the feeling of being divided into a myriad of overlapping or more often, opposing guises.
These particular artists have all considered the complex subject of the contemporary woman in their practice, and investigated notions of identity, representation and the often performative role of woman as subject. They are also painters from a city that is increasingly recognised by the art world as producing some of the strongest and most exciting contemporary painters working today. Several of their male counterparts have achieved enormous success, yet there has been comparatively little attention afforded to the practices of the women painters working in Cluj by the international audience. Additionally, the challenge of working in the male-dominated context of Cluj in a society that in many ways remains traditionally patriarchal, and even misogynistic in its attitudes, is not an easy one, and this too deserves due consideration.
The Divided Woman will consider the different ways that each artist investigates the female subject. It will look at the role of the local artistic and social context within which these women work, but it will also consider the changing global context, how social media and the Internet are impacting on women's identity and sexuality, and examine the historical position of women artists working amongst a school of highly visible and successful men.
Image above: © Oana Farcas, Daughters of Kings, 96 x 132 cm, oil on linen, 2016.
An independent curator and writer, Jane Neal has been described as a leading expert on the contemporary art scene in Eastern Europe by ARTINFO and The Financial Times. Neal writes for a variety of international publications including l'Officiel Art and Dry Collectible. She co-authored 'Cities of the Future: 21 Century Avant Gardes' for Phaidon, writing the chapter on Cluj. In 2006, Neal curated the seminal exhibition: Cluj Connection for Haunch of Venison, a show that brought together seven young artists from Transylvania: Mircea Cantor, Adrian Ghenie, Victor Man, Ciprian Muresan, Cristian Pogacean, Serban Savu and Gabriela Vanga. In 2008/09, Neal was invited to take on the role of Artistic Director of Calvert 22 in London, a not for profit foundation specialising in Russian and Eastern European Contemporary Art. Neal was responsible for launching the space and establishing the rich and dynamic programme of its first year. Writing about Calvert 22, The Evening Standard commented: Calvert 22 has a talented and experienced team. The director is Jane Neal, who has brought a whole generation of young artists from Romania to world attention.’ Neal has curated critically acclaimed exhibitions in Amsterdam, Austin, Berlin, Budapest, Dubai, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Mumbai, New York, Prague and Zurich. In 2012, Neal curated Nightfall: New Tendencies in Figurative Painting, which featured 28 of some of the world's leading and most prominent emergent painters for MODEM Centre for Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Hungary, and which traveled to the Rudolfinum in Prague in 2013. Recent exhibitions include: 'The Nude in the XX/XI Century for Sotheby's S/2 Gallery, London which was listed by The Financial Times as their 'Critic's Choice'. Neal is currently exploring how European art movements of the early Twentieth Century are inspiring artists working today.
Neal was educated at Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute, London. She continues to live and work between Oxford and London.