Sarah Slappey “Self Care”

Sargent's Daughters

poster for Sarah Slappey “Self Care”
[Image: Sarah Slappey "Girl Talk" (2021) Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 62 in.]

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Sargent’s Daughters presents Self Care, a solo exhibition of new works by Brooklyn-based painter Sarah Slappey. Featuring paintings on canvas and paper, as well as a series of drawings, Self Care considers the grotesque underpinnings of idealized femininity. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, with an essay by Nina Wolpow.

Slappey grew up in South Carolina and recalls a girlhood filled with braided hair, gingham dresses, and daisy chains, and her paintings reflect the cruelty inherent in this rigid femininity. At first glance, the works appear pristine, with sumptuous pastel finishes. But the insertion of specific, jarring details quickly contradicts this first impression. In Slappey’s work, pins used to construct dresses and bows become implements of discipline. Smooth, hairless limbs are revealed to be the products of sharp razors. Ribbons don’t adorn, they bind. As Slappey puts it, “All of the paintings have a kind of quiet violence.”

Surrounded by these charged objects, the figures in Slappey’s works are confined to the immediate foreground. They are cropped and abstracted, their limbs criss-crossing unnaturally. Rendered in shades of pale pinks and baby blues, they nonetheless retain a realistic fleshiness, with rolls of fat where bellies bend and legs meet buttocks. Though Slappey’s figures are undeniably feminine, their bodies resist total containment or easy legibility.

At once beautiful and shameful, the glimpses of adolescence depicted by Slappey offer a nuanced look at how beauty and womanhood are not naturally occurring phenomena, but rather the products of significant time and labor. Femininity, for Slappey, is both desirable and dangerous.

Sarah Slappey (b. 1984, Columbia, South Carolina) is a painter based in Brooklyn. Slappey received her MFA from Hunter College in 2016. She has had solo exhibitions at Maria Bernheim Gallery (Zurich, Switzerland) and Sargent’s Daughters (New York, NY). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Schlossmuseum, Linz, Austria; Carl Kostyal Gallery, London, UK; Deanna Evans Projects, New York, NY; König Galerie, Berlin, Germany; Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY, and the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva, Switzerland. Her work was recently acquired for the permanent collection of MAMCO. Slappey’s work has been reviewed by The New Yorker, The Art Newspaper, Artnet, Artsy, ArtSpace, Vogue Italia, and Flash Art, among others. She is represented by Sargent’s Daughters, New York and Maria Bernheim Gallery, Zurich.



from September 02, 2021 to October 02, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-09-02 from 17:00 to 19:00


Sarah Slappey

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