Self Portrait with Fried Eggs, 1996 Sarah Lucas

Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock
28th October 2005- 15th January 2006
£4 (£3 concessions)

Reviewed by Madeline Fuller

Tate Liverpool presents the first major UK retrospective of Sarah Lucas’ work in this exhibition of sculpture, paintings and installations. In 1988 she was one of the artists showing her work in Damien Hirst’s Freeze - a now legendary exhibition of Young British Artists.

This was my first experience of Lucas and as I made my way around the first few pieces I was both disturbed and moved. References to sex, exploitation and degradation are not exactly subtle and can be uncomfortably confrontational.

You don’t have to be Freud to understand the meaning of various bananas, fried eggs and fish, carefully placed on dirty, stained mattresses. ‘I Might be Shy but I’m still a Pig’ features a ham in knickers while ‘Bondage up Yours’ comprises a chicken carcass tied to a wire bed–frame.

Her work is also quite humorous. These sexual clichés and association of particular objects with body parts should be hilarious but just as I started to grin something would stop me. Many of the pieces are challenging and provoke questions about sexism and masculinity.

By the end of the exhibition I felt drained however. Repeated imagery had been rammed down my face so relentlessly that this felt like a single over-sized exhibition rather than a retrospective. What may be intended as a comment on hypocritical morality is in danger of feeling like one big lecture in morality.

I recommend this exhibition. I think it will catapult some and simply nudge others out of their comfort zone and in my opinion that is reason enough to urge people to go.

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