Leza Lidow

Review of "88" Italy Show

At the Pirra Gallery, Turin, Italy

Scene 1: Turin, Italy. A couple is scurrying under the arches of the Victor Emanuel Shopping Concourse; it's late Saturday afternoon and they still have a lot of shopping to do before the stores close.

Scene 2: The couple suddenly stop in front of a lit-up store window and stare intently.

Quite frankly, such a scene hardly ever takes place in Milan. But I am willing to bet that it will happen several times, at the entrance of each room of the Pirra Gallery, 82 Victor Emanuel Corso; right up until March 2nd, their Gallery is hosting the works of the American Leza Lidow who is showing for the firs time in Italy.

The store window that "shocked" our friends is bewitching and fascinating: in the foreground the brightly painted heads of two mannequins; on one of the graceful faces: a puzzle which cover the face and glimpses of a deep blue sky in place of missing puzzle pieces; climbing up her face and over her forehead: painted clusters of wisteria.

Inside the Gallery, a dozen mannequins, tall and graceful female bodies painted from head to toe, converse silently amongst themselves. And their bodies are canvases for medieval towns with ruined castles, green floral arabesques, wood and metal structures (at stomach level, instead of the classical positioning of the fig leaf, a sigh reads: Private Property - Keep Out), a network of barbed wire which tears at the flesh, loosened belts, clothes hung out to dry, household articles climb up from the legs and wrap around the body. The creatress lingers on the heart of all of her "women", carefully outlining its arteries, its detailed structures, much like a professor of anatomy.

The titles of her works ("A man's dream", "Height" and "Flight") describe the metaphor of feminine liberation; the backdrops of blue skies and light, bright, white clouds immerse the observer into the clear and unforgettable light of San Francisco, city of weekend retreats for Leza, who otherwise lives in Los Angeles.

In some of her works, such as "Empty Cages". the metaphor rings clear: Two empty bird cages, two naked bird-women, sinuously free and abandoned. Maybe, later, they will take to flight; but for now, they are sad, bewildered; in the age-old battle of the sexes even the woman risks going astray. In other works, such as "Plat du jour", the allegory becomes overwhelmingly intellectual and the "visual faculty" ironic and clear-cut.

Leza Lidow and her "Paintings and Mannequins" are at the Pirra Gallery, 82 Victor Emanuel Corso until March 2nd. Open from 10 am to noon and from 4 pm to 7:30 pm Monday to Friday; Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm.

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