NEW YORK, NY.- P.P.O.W
announced it now represents Betty Tompkins. Tompkins, a pioneering, feminist artist is best known for her direct depiction of the female body, sexuality, and sexual desire. Tompkins creates paintings, drawings, photographs, and videos that take often take as their starting point images found in pornographic magazines, using them to create classically framed, carefully textured works. The gallery will mount a retrospective of her works in 2017 that will include an early body of word works that feature stamped images of language used to describe women, as well as a series of collage works that draw on images culled from pornographic images from the 1950s era.
Tompkins is a natural addition to PPOWs roster, as the gallery has a long history as a platform for showing works by female and LGBTQ artists exploring social and political constructions of the body and sexuality. Like gallery artists Carolee Schneemann and Martha Wilson, who also address the politics and narrative surrounding the female figure, Tompkins use of pornography depicting heterosexual sex (a medium conventionally thought of as created by and for men), represents a reclaiming of the male gaze, and a repossession of the language surrounding womens bodies. Subverting the medium for her own purposes, Tompkins creates strikingly beautiful and masterfully framed paintings, drawings, and photographs that strive to create a new dialogue surrounding female sexuality.
Over the course of her career, Tompkins has created a body of charged, provocative works that have often gone against the grain of mainstream thinking. Drawing on pornography in the late 60s, when the feminist movement was vehemently opposed to pornography and porn was illegal in the U.S., Tompkins was often cast as an outsider, and was in two cases barred entry from France and Japan. Her groundbreaking use of graphic images always recast by the impeccable and discerning eye of the artist were far ahead of their time, and continue to feel highly relevant today, resonating with the freedom that women today feel in showing and sharing their body.
Born in 1945 in Washington, D.C., Tompkins now lives and works in New York City and Pleasant Mount, Pennsylvania. Her work is currently included in the exhibition WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories at the FLAG Art Foundation, on view through May 16, and was included in Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, a four-artist exhibition curated by Alison Gingeras at the Dallas Contemporary.