Damned If I Do

Curated by
Ariane Heloise Hughes


Alexi Marshall
Alix Marie
Ariane Heloise Hughes
Bianca Peake
Elsa Rouy
Rebekah Rubalcava


Exhibition Dates
Thursday 28th April – Sunday 8th May

Saturday – Sunday
1 – 6pm


Alexi Marshall
Alix Marie
Arian Heloise Hughes
Bianca Peake
Elsa Rouy
Rebekah Rubalcava


Alexi Marshall
Alexi Marshall (b. 1995, London, UK) is a Hastings-based artist who graduated from the Slade School of Art in 2018. She works in print, fabric, drawing and embroidery, investigating themes of womanhood, folklore and regeneration. Linocut printing is a recurring medium in Marshall’s practice. The hand is always present; handmade, hand sewn, hand carved, hand printed, hand bound. The traces it leaves – slippages, scuff marks and fingerprints are often visible and embraced. Her prints and drawings convey a temporality, as lines, bodies and worlds fold into each other to create theatrical tableaux and morality plays driven by storytelling and otherworldy narrative.   Marshall has exhibited her work in two solo exhibitions; ‘Cursebreakers’ at the De La Warr Pavilion in 2021, and ‘ The Redemption of Delilah’ at Public  Gallery, 2019. She has also shown in selected group shows including Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2018.  More recently, they include : ‘Synthesis’ Delphian Gallery at the Saatchi Gallery (2022), ‘Outside The Line’, Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome (2022)’, ‘A Star Is Just A Memory Of A Star’, Brooke Bennington, Hastings, UK (2022); ‘Body En Thrall’, Rugby Museum and Art Gallery, Rugby (2022); Ode To Orlando, Pi Artworks, (2022).

Alix Marie
Alix Marie (b.1989) is a multi-disciplinary French artist based between Paris and London.
Her work explores our relationship to bodies and their representation, with a particular interest in addressing gender stereotypes while mixing mythological references with autobiographical elements. In 2019 she was awarded the Vic Odden Award by the Royal Photographic Society for a notable achievement in the art of photography by an artist aged 35 or under.
Recent exhibitions include: Raw at Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam (2022), Nude at Fotografiska New-York (2022), Styx at the National Center for Photography, Ballarat, Australia (solo, 2021), Sucer La Nuit at Musée des Beaux Arts Le Locle (solo, 2019) 

Ariane Heloise Hughes
Ariane Heloise Hughes ss a British/Australian painter based in London.
Hughes’ paintings are inspired by her personal observations, both on and offline. Engaging deeply with the aesthetics and history of surrealism, Hughes’ paintings exaggerate the interplay between the real and the unreal.The female nude is a recurring subject in Hughes’ work and she employs this pictorial trope to instigate an ironical commentary on today’s culture of voyeurism and the perpetuation of idealised online self-representation.
Upcoming shows include a Solo Show with GNYP (Berlin, July), Summer Group Show with Vacancy Gallery (Shanghai, July) and a Solo Show with Roman Road (London, September).

Bianca Peake
Bianca Peake (b. 1996, Trinidad & Tobago) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Port of Spain. She holds a BA in Painting from Camberwell College of Arts. Her work explores identity and reflections of the self through the lens, performance and perception of femininity. Her process mainly involves traditional oil painting and is informed by photography and moving image research. Recent exhibitions in Trinidad & Tobago include ‘Relative’ (2021) at The Lost Tribe, ‘Ink Drawings from the Artist Studio’ (2020) at SoftBox Gallery, ‘Nudes’ (2020) at 27 Pembroke Street and ‘A Shot to the Ego’ (2020) at Callaloo Company.

Elsa Ruoy
London based artist Elsa Rouy (Sittingbourne, Kent) creates art with a female gaze. Rouy explores new ways of expressing semi-autobiographical and social narratives following a discourse related to the human condition.
She has an interest in female sexual expression and the imperfect-self. Her artworks satirize immoral thoughts that are terrifying, centring around feelings of shame and guilt. To explore this, Rouy paints hedonistic grotesque figures often of monstrous women with their sexual organs revealed. To imitate her hyperawareness of having a body she subverts and delocalizes depictions of female and male genitalia to form androgenous or fluid figures that resonate to the artist’s identity while also removing a fixed identity.
Rouy’s practice underlines the parts of ourselves that we find uncomfortable, accentuated by ardent depictions of bodily fluids; such as blood, pus, semen, faeces, milk, urine, sweat and saliva. There is a link between bodily fluids and the notion of being a human and our mortality. The leaking of bodily fluids breaks the containment associated with correctness and purity, which are constantly strived for in our society, our bodies and our minds. The bodily fluids are presented to expose the unsavoury parts of being human that are considered taboo. 

Her artwork explores societal and internal power roles. Rouy appropriates the human body to discuss relationships between people and the self that are saturated with child-like dependency, intrusion and boundaries. Alongside a distortion of interior and exterior bodies, the artworks denote emotional illusion, trust and trepidation between people. The figures often have connections to expulsion and birth that act simultaneously as a harbouring or a needed release of these emotional burdens.

Recent shows include;
A Demon in a Sundress, Guts Gallery (solo show, London 2021), CACOTOPIA, Annka Kultys (group show, London 2021) and I Have My Eye On You, Everyday Gallery (group show, Antwerp 2021)


Rebekah Rubalcava
Rebekah Rubalcava is a self-taught oil painter based in Arizona.
Her work focuses on the processing of internal dreamscapes, spirituality and emotions.Themes of growing up in a religious household whilst coming to terms with a budding female sexuality are explored through her delicate yet provocative use of symbolism that borders on the surreal and the absurd. She seeks to marry the spiritual and the physical in her work whilst incorporating her love of dreaming, films, fashion and literature. Her work is highly personal, yet simultaneously universal due to its highly stylised and theatrical romanticisation.


Damned if I do; damned if I don’t. A paradox of daily existence surrounding the haunted doublings that emerge from society’s double standards. The virgin-whore, the untouchable priestess, the innocent temptress. A series of female archetypes, their potential power held in check by social conditions.

The exhibition Damned If I Do challenges the social straightjacketing of the patriarchal system, bringing together work across a range of media by a group of women artists exploring the female experience, the body, and the gaze. The artists challenge and subvert the hypersexualisation of the female body in Western culture, looking to undermine problematic art historical tropes and traditions surrounding the female nude.

Across the show, body parts melt together in visceral assemblages. Masked lovers gaze into surreal reflections. A half-eaten apple is held to an open mouth. Fingers intimately grasp the inner folds of an ear. Damned If I Do is both expression and interrogation of a distinctly feminine visual vernacular, binding these artists together while leaving space for individual concerns and approaches.

A rich vein of folklore, religion, and mythology is woven throughout the exhibition. Dreamscapes emerge replete with symbolism and surreal imagery, pointing to the importance of worldmaking and the re-telling of stories to address ingrained gendered imbalances. The role of organised religion is hinted at in the titular evocation of damnation, as well as in visual references to the crucifix, occult symbols, and the rapture.

Many of the artists draw on autobiographical elements to investigate questions of identity and the self. There is evidence of a complex interplay of interiority and exteriority, threading the weight of the emotional and psychological into the physical realm, with a consideration of material space and the corporeality of the body. The material presence and tactility of the artwork is a key concern for several artists in the show, bringing the photographic medium into three-dimensional space, for example, or utilising a handmade multi-surfaced aesthetic.

A shared sense of humour and a lightness of touch characterise these artists’ collective approaches. Narratives are hinted at, backstories emerge and fade, conclusions are never quite reached. These are worlds seen through a female gaze – one imbued with a fierce awareness of the cultural legacy left by the dominance of the male viewpoint. Meeting head-on the complicated relationships between voyeurism and expressions of female sexuality, Damned If I Do embraces the power of sensuality and opens up the possibilities of a new way of looking.

Text Anna Soutor

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