Alexis Hunter (1948 – 2014) was born in Auckland, New Zealand and moved to London in 1972 after graduating from the Elam School of Fine Arts. She was an influential member of the Women’s Workshop of the Artists’ Union and a key feminist artist who incorporated feminist theory into her work. Although she is best known for her provocative photography, in the early 1980s she turned to more expressive painterly compositions.
Between 1967-77 Hunter created a large body of work called ‘Approaches to Fear’ in which she pictured hands performing actions that challenge gendered expectations. For example, in these photographs the hairy male hands fixing a bike are bedecked with ornate feminine rings and a bracelet. Compositionally, the hands could be your own, directly implicating the viewer in the work. The green paint on top of the photograph is a stamp of the artist’s own presence.
‘Fear of the Intellectual Wife’ (1987) belongs to Hunter’s ‘Trigger Series’, paintings created quickly from mainly non-visual sources. In the work the figure embodies its own mental state: the huge brain of the clever wife dominates and drowns out the pale grey of her husband’s head. Yet the crimson paint used to represent the woman makes the form of the head look almost like a pregnant womb. It is a humorous representation of the social expectations imposed on men and women, and the impact which they have on our personal relationships.