Feature Exploring Health and Wellbeing with Paloma Tendero
He first met artist Paloma Tendero when they were both asked to judge LCC’s MA Photography final-year exhibition in 2017. Tendero was an alumna.
After studying Fine Art at Complutense University in Madrid and graduating with an MA in Photography from London College of Communication, Tendero began to explore themes around genetic inheritance and hereditary illness, drawing on personal experience as well as classical art references and working across photography and sculpture. She says her works also draw “parallels with our inherited cultural identity around ideas of the perfect body in contrast with illness”, and she has been inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ capacity to create art from trauma and anxiety.
Tendero has participated in several artist-in-residence programmes, which she credits as all contributing greatly to her practice. These include Sarabande, The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, and spending three months in Vienna at KulturKontakt in 2018. Her artwork is also part of The Hyman Collection currently on show at the Arnolfini in the exhibition ‘A Picture of Health, Women Photographers from The Hyman Collection’. The exhibition includes well-known artists such as Jo Spence, Rosy Martin, Anna Fox and Sonia Boyce and future stars Heather Agyepong and Eliza Hatch.
James Hyman says: “It is important to us that we support and promote artists at the start of their careers, not just collect works by already established figures, so we were delighted to acquire for the collection Veins (2013), a 12-part sequence of Paloma’s photographs – I think we may have been her first collectors!
“Our last event before lockdown was to see Paloma ‘in conversation’ at the Sarabande Foundation where she had a residency, and we are looking forward to discovering more about what she has been working on in recent months. Today, in the midst of a global health crisis, Paloma’s foregrounding of the psychological as well as physical impact of illness is especially relevant.”
In addition to ‘A Picture of Health’, which will be running until 13 June, Tendero will also be exhibiting online in ‘Corpus Mentis’ at The VOV from 17 May to 28 June 2021.
“[During the pandemic] I understood more than ever, the importance of my practice in society, realising that my work can help to facilitate dialogue between people, addressing complex themes around wellbeing,” she told us.
“I have started experimenting with recycled materials associated with sickness such as mattresses and pillows, creating sculptural pieces that will then be photographed, enveloping the body and creating tension between comfort and oppression – definitely the pandemic has an impact on the new work.”
About the champion
If you’re interested in learning more about 20th century British art, James Hyman is the expert you’ll want to talk to. His book, The Battle for Realism. Figurative Art in Britain during the Cold War (1945-60), was the result of 10 years of doctoral research aided by the key artists, was nominated for the W.B Berger Prize and is considered one of the definitive books on the subject.