Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present ANTI-ICON: APOKALYPSIS, an ambitious new body of work by artist Martine Gutierrez. The series continues her exploration of identity across the cultural landscapes of gender, race, and celebrity. In 17 new works, Gutierrez has transformed herself into a multitude of idols—a selection from the series comprises Gutierrez’s second exhibition with the gallery. Costumed by the barest of essentials, Gutierrez’s figure is the catalyst, reflecting dystopian futurism upon the symbols of our past. Through each metamorphosis, Gutierrez re-envisions a diverse canon of radical heroines who have achieved legendary cultural influence over thousands of years in both art history and pop culture.
“Still a patriarchal language, a determinative frame. Still a divisional boundary of womanhood, a categorization of the icon, a spiritual reality in mass production. The same face of currency made over and over again. What is an icon, a cult image?
If the icon shows humanity’s spiritual ideal, it is the anti-icon who refuses the delusion of man, his inflated self-conception. For the icon makes real the image, anti-icon must break through to reveal reality. ”
The project’s cult following began in 2021 when first commissioned by Public Art Fund. Ten images from the original series were chosen to circulate on bus shelters normally used for advertising. Pedestrians encountered the larger-than-life figures on their daily commutes in 300 locations across New York, Chicago, and Boston. Gutierrez adapted these images by veiling the publicly hung nude self-portraits, both delegating her autonomy and struggle in the ongoing political restrictions placed on women’s bodies in the United States.
This summer, Gutierrez will reveal ANTI-ICON: APOKALYPSIS in three distinct selections set to preview across three venues: Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; RYAN LEE Gallery, New York; and Josh Lilley, London. The three-gallery exhibition will be accompanied by a new artist book, published by RYAN LEE, entitled APOKALYPSIS. The full collection of 17 portraits will be presented in its entirety for the first time in a traveling museum show, organized by Polygon Gallery, Vancouver slated for 2024.
Gutierrez is the sole performer in the series, portraying all 17 groundbreaking figures. The exhibition includes Aphrodite, ancient Greek goddess of love, desire and beauty, identified by the Romans as ‘Venus’; Ardhanarishvara, composite male-female figure of the Hindu god Shiva together with his consort Parvati; Cleopatra, Egyptian ruler famed for her influence on Roman politics; Joan of Arc, sainted heroine of France, revered as a holy person for her faithfulness and bravery in battle, burned at the stake by the church; Lady Godiva, bold noblewoman from the Medieval period who fought for justice for everyday people; La Madonna, Italian for ‘Lady, Virgin Mary’, central figure of Christianity, celebrated as the ‘Virgin Queen’ in processions of Semana Santa, throughout Spain and Latin America; and Queen of Sheba, Ethiopian queen, known for her wit, power and wealth, her romance with King Solomon is documented in the Kebra Nagast.