Our spotlight is set on our second Featured artist: British artist Bex Massey. We discovered her brilliant work on Instagram and knew that we wanted to feature her right away. Lucky for us when asked she agreed to participate. Her paintings a mix of nostalgic pop with feminist critique have much to offer the audience.
Lucky for us, Covid gave her a lot of time to work, so she has a lot of incredible new work to show. The majority of her work discusses her latest research topic which is Greek mythology in the beginnings of mythonogy within that era. See for yourself. Enjoy and discover the art of the very talented Bex Massey.
I think I originally wanted to be a cartoonist but then dad showed me a book on David Hockney when I was a kid and that was me hooked on a more representational manner of drawing. Towards the end of the 90s some family friends bought my folks the Saatchi ‘Sensation’ exhibition catalogue.
I breathed the imagery in and it blew my socks off. Gone was the still life and female nude of the classroom and it felt so exciting. This is the moment that I realised that I wanted to be one of them.
I work best with routine: I get up early, sink a strong coffee, have an Insta trawl and then do some research. I wave internet good bye (my studio doesn’t have WIFI-but I hope to rectify this in 2021) and head to the studio.
I put a brew on and do some sketching and testing.
Quick lunch, another brew and at least seven hours of painting.
Marmite is Queen | Bex Massey quote
I usually get inspired during gallery visits, chats with artists, reading comic books/graphic novels, researching art history or Greek Mythology, all 90s nostalgia and music do the job, certain films or comedy and almost always whilst reading about intersectional feminist issues.
The fact that we do not have sex, race, living wage, disabled and LGBTQ+ equality is absolutely repellent.
The fact that we do not show enough interest or at best demonstrate wilful apathy towards this is abhorrent and inspires me to make work about it in the vain hope of seeing some sort of parity within my lifetime.
My favourite artist is still David Hockney. He had, and continues to have too much of an impact on me to change up. I have MANY artists I revere though and as the artists working closest to the aesthetic I am practicing are all men (David Salle, Jim Shaw, Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake, James Rosenquist, Dexter Dalwood and Jeff Koons etc.)
I will list a few of my favourite female artists instead: Heather Phillipson, Tai Shani, Sol Calero, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Lucia Hierro, Jordan Casteel, Julie Tuyet Curtiss, Chloe Wise, Marta Galindo, Mickalene Thomas, Tanya Moulson, Sarah Roberts, Saelia Aparicio, Katelyn Ledford, Kilee Price, Cherelle Sappleton, Lindsey Mendick, Joy Labinjo, Charlotte Fox, Danielle Klebes, Aneta Kajzer, Francesca Facciola, Lucia Love, Hannah Antalek, Lizzy Lunday, Sun Woo, Pippa El-Kadhi Brown, Ella Walker and Julia Garcia.
I think that levity is a great distraction tactic when discussing difficult topics.
Two weeks ago, my solo show ‘We didn’t start the fire’ opened at VOLT and last week, group show ‘Pop Now’ opened at Gallery 46.
The following day a UK nationwide lock down ensued which meant both shows had to close.
Due to this slight viewing glitch, I am delighted that both shows have been extended. Whilst being locked in I will be doing a live zoom ‘In Conversation’ with the director of Towner Gallery and Trustee of VOLT-Joe Hill.
Free tickets are available via VOLT website so if anyone wants to hear more about my work or ramblings please check it out.
Since Lock Down 01 (UK) I have been picking apart the beginnings of misogyny in Ancient Greek mythology. I’ve read the Iliad (can’t get that time back) and other works of the Homeric poem structure by Sappho, Euripides and Hesiod.
This has culminated in paintings and an installation (for my solo show ‘We didn’t start the fire’ at VOLT, Eastbourne) based on Prometheus stealing fire from Mount Olympus: AKA the Pandora myth.
I’ve tackled Zeus and the eight women he defiled, Hades and his abduction of Persephone AND made some tiny tiny Xena Warrior canvas based on Hercules and Hera when we weren’t allowed to leave the house at all. Granted all of these Gods will berevisited but I am jumping again into the evolution of Aphrodite.
Lock Down 02 will be centred on her enigmatic transformation from illustrious Astarte, through lusty Venus and into more leathery and notably celibate Virgin Mary.
Whilst diving into this lengthy research subject I am also working on loosening up in the studio. I want to incorporate more gestural painterly motifs in my work so I am slowly trying to shoe horn this in.
It is proving very difficult as it doesn’t come naturally to me and kinda scares me as I have less control of the paint. I think being this petrified (in a non-threating situation) is good though: Hopefully something exciting will come out of it!
Bex Massey [b.1985, Newcastle, UK] graduated with a Ba FA Hons in 2007 from The Cass and in 2013 with a MA FA from Chelsea College of art. Since obtaining her Masters she has been shortlisted for The Signature Art Prize 2014, Young Masters Art Prize 2014, The Taking Shape Prize 2016, Blooom Award, 2016 and been acknowledged with the Butterbiggens Prize in British Painting in 2019. She has been exhibited internationally and her work can be found in collections throughout the UK, Europe and US.
VOLT, Eastbourne, UK. 24 October-17 January 2021. We didn’t start the fire (solo show) Volt Gallery
Gallery 46, London, UK. 4-13 December 2021. POP NOW! Web - Gallery 46
Bankley Gallery, Manchester, UK. DTBC 2021. Intersections Bankley Gallery
*ALL Dates all provisional as lock down in the UK could be extended
Bex Massey official Website
Instagram Profil of Bex Massey
Photos by: 2020. Photo credit Mitsuko Moulson @mitsukomoulson
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