About Arika von Edler
Arika's figurative oil paintings and textile pieces investigate female sexuality, its historical and contemporary suppression, and its subsequent exploitation. Some of the work is pure oil paint, some pure fiber, and occasionally a mixed-media collaboration of the two. Her work focuses on female sexuality in a country where women’s reproductive healthcare is controversial, and sexual assault victims are often deemed uncredible.
Her oil paintings borrow figures from the Sistine Chapel, by bringing Renaissance angels into the contemporary. Through their performance of present-day struggles, they seek to invert classical notions of femininity. By drawing from figurative painting’s golden age, her work injects the female gaze and perspective into its historical DNA. Charmeuse is a fabric traditionally used in lingerie and bridal gowns, and its inclusion in each of the paintings is a meditation on women's history of being viewed as either sex objects or property. The work is reflective of our culture's attitude towards sexual assault, and by drawing on her own experiences it is simultaneously diaristic. The figures probe questions about abortions, slut-shaming, rape, maternity, birth control, reproductive coercion, abuse within relationships, sex work, the history of prostitution, queerness in relation to femininity, and overall reproductive feminism.
The incorporation of textile is both an homage to and a subversion of traditional women’s work, but due to its soft and strong duality it is representative of femininity itself. The canvas has long been the domain for men to flex their artistic genius, and by embroidering confrontational female figures into it, the work seeks to decolonize a traditionally gendered space. The textile/embroidery is intended to be emblematic of an unravelling. A personal unravelling, a political unravelling, and a gender unravelling.
Arika is the owner and head curator of Shotwell Gallery. She lives and works in San Francisco, California with her husband, Sebastiaan de With and their two cats.