The Strawberry Thief: Nikoleta Sekulovic
1 - 28 April 2023 London
The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery presents The Strawberry Thief, an exhibition of new paintings by the Madrid-based artist, Nikoleta Sekulovic. The Strawberry Thief brings together a collection of paintings of the female nude set against the rich patterns of William Morris’s textile designs. Deploying friends and family members as her ‘muses’, Sekulovic confounds conventional expectations of the female nude with her austere yet tender depictions of her chosen subjects - all of whom are mothers, like herself.
William Morris (1834 - 1896), the British artist, designer, novelist, publisher, poet, and socialist activist, is justly celebrated as the leading figure of the British Arts and Crafts movement of the late Nineteenth Century. Amongst his most significant achievements were his wall-paper and textile designs – which drew on the rich traditions of the pre-industrial age to create something new, distinct and enduring. Perhaps the most iconic of his motifs is the famous The Strawberry Thief pattern – with its paired birds bowered in fruit-bushes and flowers.
In her new series of paintings, Nikoleta Sekulovic abandons her distinctive muted palette and establishes her nude subjects instead in richly decorated contexts reworked from William Morris’ textiles and wallpapers. Exuberant floral motifs unfurl across the surface of her paintings, providing a striking yet harmonious contrast to the soft clear forms of her subjects’ bodies. The nakedness of Sekulovic’s models is presented through the female gaze - as such, her striking compositions stand as authentic celebrations of the female form freed from either sexual expectation or male hegemony.
Sekulovic’s paintings are imbued with a sense of hard-won craftsmanship that recalls William Morris’ revivalist aspirations. Through her artful transcription of Morris’ original designs, and her inscription of carefully-selected verses of his poetry on to the back of her canvases, she celebrates – and connects with – the moral and intellectual ideals of Morris’ own practice, and binds it to her own distinctive vision.