¡ La revolución será feminista o no será !
Mari Chordà, Angela Garcia Codoñer, Isabel Oliver and Eulàlia Grau
The exhibition requires us to place the works in context. We are in Spain, in the 1960s-1970s. Franco has been in power since 1936. He rules the country with an iron fist, imposing violence, censorship, surveillance, the Catholic religion and morality. Eulàlia Grau, Mari Chordà, Isabel Oliver and Angela Garcia Codoñer were born between 1942 and 1946, and therefore grew up with this dictatorial straitjacket in which women had no rights, no existence, only well-defined roles. They were earmarked as wives and mothers. Earmarked for invisible work and reproduction. Reduced to domestic, sexual and educational duties. The 1960s marked the beginning of the feminist movements in Europe and the United States. Feminist artists were committed to destabilizing the rules and standards imposed. They asserted their existence and their freedom. With joy and fervour, they collectively deconstructed stereotypical representations, rendering visible the taboo subjects inherent in the experiences and bodies of women. It is in this context of revolution that Mari Chordà, Angela Garcia Codoñer, Isabel Oliver and Eulàlia Grau conceived and exhibited their works from the 1960s.
Over the last 10 years, art historians and museums have been making a considerable effort to rehabilitate the works of female Spanish artists active from the 1960s. During this period, the Spanish pop movement was nurtured with unquestionably feminist artistic approaches. The four artists presented at Galerie Mayoral are simultaneously pioneers and actors in this both plastic and political current. Mari Chordà (Amposta, 1942) is a painter, poet and editor. From 1964, she created feminist paintings representing landscape bodies which invite us inside and outside the bodies of women. The artist plays with borders (both abstract and figurative) to represent the female sex and more broadly the intimate experience. This is also the path of painting and intimacy that Angela Garcia Codoñer (Valencia, 1944) generously pursues. The artist strives to reincarnate pop aesthetics (stylization of the bodies, bright colours and lights) in order to unfurl fragmented, multiplied, hybridized female bodies. The series Misses is particularly emblematic of her desire to extricate the bodies of women from patriarchal and media codes. Isabel Oliver (Valencia, 1946) also works on this in a clearly more figurative manner. From the domestic space to the public space, this artist explores the history of Western art in order to extract models of female representation. The decontextualization of these models generates a critique of the images of women conceived by men: muses, models, women as objects. The artist also injects gestures and techniques derived from crafts (embroidery, tapestry, etc.) to which women were confined for a long time. Collage played an important role in the pop movement. The collages by Eulàlia Grau (Terrassa, 1946) condemn oppression, violence and discrimination. Driven by urgency and transgression, the artist cuts images and texts from newspapers and magazines which she then assembles and recomposes. The works express the violent divisions between social classes, and the fantasy of a society in which each person is in the place imposed on them by the power. Docile bodies which have to join and remain in the ranks determined by a superior force.
Because they rejected bodies as a function, bodies as an object and bodies as silence, Mari Chordà, Angela Garcia Codoñer, Isabel Oliver and Eulàlia Grau have turned the codes, restrictions and practices around to reinvent the space for the representation of women. Their works arise from a collective anger and from clearly stated commitments. Without compromise or indulgence, they criticize the patriarchy, the authoritarian regime in place (Franco died in 1975) and the different forms of oppression/violence experienced by women and minority groups. While the country, paralyzed by fear, remained silent and suffocated, collective resistance was under way. Mi cuerpo, mi decisión. Female artists expressed their anger, and with daring and courage reappropriated their bodies, their forms of representation and their voices.