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Sylvie Fleury: S.F.

  • Art
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Sylvie Fleury S.F. Installation view, Sprüth Magers, London,  Photo: Ben Westoby
Sylvie Fleury S.F. Installation view, Sprüth Magers, London, Photo: Ben Westoby

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Sylvie Fleury is tired of your macho bullshit. Not just yours, but everyone’s: the art world’s, the motorcycle world’s, the sci fi world’s, etc. etc. etc. The Swiss artist is done with it.

And her long groan of frustration is manifested as a series of brilliant, satirical, hilarious art installations. Back in the 1990s, she tried to join a car club but was rejected. So she made her own motorcycle gang, She-Devils On Wheels. Her gang’s office is here, filled with merch and saucy posters, massive Playgirl cutouts and jerry cans full of gasoline. It’s a classic boy’s club, but only girls are invited. 

It’s not just motor culture she has in her sights. Downstairs, huge rocket ships – essentially enormous sci fi space cocks, invented by men to be shot up into the sky to shag the universe – are covered in white faux fur, demeaned, ridiculed, perverted…feminised. 

Upstairs, she brilliantly twists the language of minimalism into new, feminine shapes. Frank Stella paintings are recreated in soft, glittery hues like ultra-chic compacts filled with blusher, 

a Carl Andre floor piece becomes a mirror to do your lipstick in, or a catwalk for fashion models, Ed Ruscha-esque text paintings are now ads for mascara. 

Upstairs, she puts high heel shoes on plinths, or recasts them in gold and silver, because why not? Why can’t she elevate fashion to the same level as sculpture? Why is one low culture, and the other high? Why are there all these rules, and who put them in place? Who enforces them? 

It’s brilliant not just because it looks great, but because it’s so damn smart. She’s not just calling out machismo and misogyny, but hypocrisy, laying bare the blatant but unspoken relationships between art and consumerism, canvases and commodities. It’s a show full of snide little jabs, Fleury poking the whole macho world in the ribs. It’s brutal, funny, uncomfortable, and will really make you want to join her motorcycle gang.

Eddy Frankel
Written by
Eddy Frankel


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