‘Delaine Le Bas: Zigeuner Sauce’, the artist’s second solo exhibition at Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix features new works marking a radical change in her practice. A new minimalist approach takes shape in paintings in which text is predominant – like in Beware of Linguistic Engineering (2021), that translates both the power of words and language manipulation, notably by politicians and the media, as seen during the Brexit campaign.
This is the focus of the gallery’s ground floor which Le Bas covered with black and white enlargements of carefully selected newspapers articles. These convey the pervasive flux of information in everyday life, the speed at which news circulates, leaving little scope for critical distance, and how it eventually vanishes from our memory.
The ground floor gallery is also transformed into a three-dimensional canvas in which paintings on fabric, displayed on layers of calico, create a sort of textile-based mise-en-abyme. Figures like the clown in Love N Bullets Revisited (2021) evoke the ambiguity of a character that is both entertaining and evil. In Harvest Moon (2021), a helicopter – symbolising the increased surveillance apparatus that has invaded British society – hovers above a black rabbit running on a full moon night.
In the Zigeuner Sauce series (2017-21), Delaine Le Bas proposes to reflect on identity and self-naming. Indeed, while ‘Zigeuner’ – German term for Gypsy – has been called out for being considered offensive and discriminatory by members of the Romani and Sinti communities, in Britain, the word Gypsy is part of a self-identifying position.
An English Romany Gypsy artist, Le Bas revisits the motif of the spicy sauce bottle, as a tool for protest, similar to a Molotov cocktail, in dialogue with artist Betye Saar’s Liberation of Aunt Jemima: Cocktail (1973), or as ‘Pissotovs’ filled with her own urine, in echo with the ‘Puputovs’ used during the 2017 Venezuelan protests.
In the lower ground’s first gallery, Talay O Puv, O Zeisko Tan Part II (2021), meaning Under Ground Is Where The Heart Is in Romany – which Part I is currently presented at the Royal Academy Summer Show 2021 selected by Yinka Shonibare MBE RA – evokes the artist’s personal and artistic transformation. Executed during the lockdown, while she was away from home, this textile piece brings together, around the artist’s painted figure, her thoughts, cultural, spiritual, and imaginary universe through a colourful cosmogony. It also relates to earth as a mother entity, our relation to it, and our interconnection to each other.
This central piece, a painted and stitched calico-based collage, resonates through three other painted female figures: Modern Witch II (2021), an unexpected appearance at the bottom of the staircase that seems to announce or run away from it, and Vigilant Observers I & II, all inspired by the artist’s body.
Finally, in the third room, Zigeuner Sauce 15.06.20 documents a performative moment during the lockdown, as Britain’s separation from Europe was becoming a reality. A photograph of the artist wearing a ‘Don’t worry Fuck Brexit’ T-shirt by English artist Jeremy Deller is presented in dialogue with a painting entitled Don’t Worry Fuck Brexit 210921 After Jeremy Deller. Hypocrisy Politics (2013), an earlier work centred around the figure of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher evokes the impact of a political party which legacy continues to affect Britain today.
‘Delaine Le Bas: Zigeuner Sauce’ is a timely exhibition that addresses issues that are highly relevant in Britain’s current social and political climate.
This exhibition is also an opportunity for new explorations into the artist’s creative roots in textile and fashion.
On this occasion the artist has created a limited edition of art objects and art as clothing under the label House of Le Bas – Gypsy Couture. These will be showcased at the gallery in November, during an event that will include a newly commissioned sound piece by Justin Langlands.
Delaine Le Bas (b. 1965, Worthing)
Delaine Le Bas addresses nationhood, land, belonging and gender across diverse media including embroidery, painting, decoupage, sculpture, installations and performance that reflect domestic claustrophobia and the transient nature of modern materiality.
Le Bas has exhibited her works extensively both in the UK and abroad. In June 2007, her work was included in the first Roma Pavilion at 52nd Venice Biennale and the Prague Biennale. She has continued participating in international events, including the 11th Berlin Biennale (2020), Harbstsalon, Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin (2019, 2017), Roma Pavillion at 58th Venice Biennale (2019), ANTI Athens Biennale, Athens (2018), 9th Gwangju Biennale (2011), National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare (2014), Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2015), and a number of UK venues including solo exhibitions at Transmission, Glasgow (2018), Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Bolton (2014), Phoenix, Brighton (2014), Chapter, Cardiff (2010), Transition, London (2005). Currently Worthing Museum and Art Gallery is running a solo exhibition of Le Bas, 'St Sara Kali George'.
Le Bas's works are in the British Council Collection.
Zigeuner Sauce | PRESS RELEASE