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Biography of Alexis Hunter

Alexis Hunter was born in 1948 in New Zealand. She obtained an Honours degree (in Painting and the History of Art and Architecture) at the Elam School of Fine Art in 1969. After travelling around Australia for a year she joined the Women's Workshop of the Artists Union in London whilst working in commercial film and animation. During the eighties she became Visiting Lecturer at the School of Visual Arts, New York and Byam Shaw in London, then Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Houston, Texas. Hunter has curated various exhibitions on painting and politics. Using London as her base, she works and shows internationally, including regular exhibitions at the Whitespace Gallery, New Zealand. The London Gallery Richard Saltoun is currently showing her conceptual feminist artworks at art fairs in London and New York

The Narrative Sequences were devised as an intervention in the women's art movement of the seventies and at the time was shown at the Hayward, the ICA and the Sydney Biennale and various European museums. Since the renewed interest in the work it has been shown in 'Live in Your Head: Concept and Experiment in Britain' at the Whitechapel Gallery, London; 'Work' at Taxi Palais, Innsbruck; 'WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution' at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Lynda Morris of the Norwich Gallery has curated a large exhibition of this sequential work 'Alexis Hunter: Radical Feminism in the 1970s', which has travelled to Bunkier Sztuki, Kracow, Poland. The appreciation of Hunter's photographic narratives has led her to embark on a new series of artworks exploring the complex relationship between film, photography and painting.

"Alexis Hunter is one of the most important representatives of the engaged feminist art. She contributed to creating a movement in art, which imposed female artistic point of reference through image and, the way of presentation. Her works are deeply rooted in political context. They form a critical analysis of masculinized culture." Olenka Nowak, writer, Poland, June 2007.

The Object Series, featuring the now iconographic twin towers image, was an experimental project on the female gaze, began as a record of tattoos and became a study of masculine expressivity. The images articulate a sense of liberty that seems highly precious in the current climate of fear over civil and social freedoms. The men in the images state their masculinity in an era that was confident in its portrayal of male identity, as in the Marlborough Cigarette cowboy advert. Hunter's images also predicted the individualisation of the consumer in the present day and foresaw the type of assertive yet passive sexual visual language of masculinity in advertising through her painted version of The Object Series, 1975:

"Hunter's Photorealist fusion of camera work with painting assumes an unexpected dimension … Thanks to the beautifully rendered Photorealist style, a lush assertion of feminine power enhances the erotic edge of its otherwise masculine imagery." Christopher Knight, Los Angelos Times, 2007

Other series like the glamorous image of a silver high -heeled shoe on fire expressed feminist's concerns over the influence of the fashion industry and the objectification of women at that time. The 1977 'burning Shoe' - Approach to Fear XIII: Pain - decisive action sequence has had a particular resonance as an iconic image in the gender debate.

'War and Nature' moved the subject matter into wider issues like the inevitability of nature versus the human path of destruction and aggression. Viewed now this piece is remarkably pertinent with the current debates over our human imprint on the Earth in terms of both nature and society.

Domestic Warfare was a photographic slide installation on first showing but now is shown as a PowerPoint presentation. 'Domestic violence was anatomised in Alexis Hunter's contribution to Three Perspectives on Photography [Hayward Gallery 1979 ] - a sequence of one hundred 35mm slides, which she called Domestic Warfare (1979). In this, Hunter was a pioneer of a photography-based art bound-up with the appropriation of the consumer fantasies of commercial film, TV and advertising." Professor David Alan Mellor.

Sophie Slade, Curator

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