Rook & Raven is proud to present, She Came To Stay, taking its title from the novel of the same name by the writer Simone de Beauvoir includes the work of Paula Rego DBE, Eileen Cooper RA, Marie Jacotey, Lucy Farley and Annie Kevans. In keeping with the novel, this group exhibition explores many existentialist concepts such as freedom, angst and the other. These ideas of identity and self and the human condition are ever present in the works portrayed by the artists featured.

This cross-generational exhibition, curated by Aretha Campbell and Lucy Farley, is primarily concerned with painting be it figurative or abstract driven by autobiographical themes. Exploring female writers and painters and subsequently their collective concerns. Through these selected works these artists are questioning the perception of the human condition - concerns, which are all still relevant to today's society and thus an inherent interest lies in assessing what has happened during that time lapse between females working then and females working from autobiographical sources now.

Born in Portugal, Dame Paula Rego’s work always has a sense of magical realism; quirky contemporary mythologies pointing to an underlying psychology and sexuality, through a feminine view-point. Working from literature, myths, fairy tales, cartoons and religious texts, Rego creates narrative works imbued with mystery. She is drawn to subjects that are well known and well resolved, and takes her imagery from sources as varied as Peter Pan and Mary Magdalene. Her first experiments with printmaking were tentative, but as she discovered the various techniques open to her, her work became liberated and extremely powerful. As in the works on display in this exhibition Paula Rego uses loaded imagery and symbolism to create a surreal mystery for the unravelling.

Rego studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and was an exhibiting member of the London Group with David Hockney and Frank Auerbach. She was the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in London. Paula’s exhibitions include a retrospective at Tate Liverpool in 1997, Dulwich Picture Gallery in 1998, Tate Britain in 2005 and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2007. A major retrospective was also held of her work at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid in 2007, which travelled to the Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, the following year.

Sometimes described as a magic realist, Eileen Cooper RA brings an unapologetically female perspective to her subject matter, which encompasses sexuality, motherhood, life and death. Her richly diverse images, simultaneously bold and tender, reveal a range of feeling that is both deeply engrossing and readily accessible, yet still very much part of contemporary art practice. Throughout her career Cooper’s work has contained a strong autobiographical element. However, her vision is always more allegorical than anecdotal, her concerns and experiences as relevant and timeless as those of the human spirit itself.

Since graduating from Central St. Martins in 2004, when Charles Saatchi bought her series of 30 paintings of dictators as young boys (‘Boys’), Annie Kevans has exhibited in group shows at leading galleries and museums including the Barbican Art Gallery, the Royal Academy, the Saatchi Gallery, the Grand Palais in Paris, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Museum Dr Guislain in Gent, Beursschouwburg in Brussels and the Marres Centre for Contemporary Art in Maastricht.

“Her work’s way of quietly digging out unsettling truths about society has held the art world in thrall…Kevans’ work is approachable, unpretentious, and unexpectedly profound. These naively rendered, pastel-coloured paintings are like little warnings of just how easily our civilized veneer could crumble away.” Nisha Lilia Diu, Telegraph

Lucy Farley was born in 1982 and studied at St.Martins, and MA in printmaking from the Royal College of art in 2009. She recently completed a two-year Fellowship at the Royal Academy. Lucy’s current body of work is a result of a preoccupation with the 'Possession of space, both mentally and physically and the human need to re-claim our territory, whether it be against each other, in nature or in the virtual world.

The inspiration for the pieces in the show- 'She Came To Stay' derive from themes in the Joanna Hogg film 'Exhibition' (2013), which depicts the tension in a relationship between two people attempting to navigate their way through a shared creative and domestic space and our involvement with them as voyeurs, through windows looking in, as well as our perspective from the inside out.

Marie Jacotey's explorations into young adult relationships share a formal and conceptual affinity with comic book art and offer a critique in how we view, perceive and store images in the post-internet age. Jacotey's drawings of the contradictory complications of life invite fictive extrapolations on a culture informed by soundbites, existential angst, and the inane dictum of the internet. Often leavened with a palpable erotic undercurrent, Jacotey's subjects hover between an innate sense of possibility vs. unexpected despair and offer a profound interplay between individual psychosis and social entropy. Jacotey deftly navigates the vernacular where trivial maxims are often charged with intensely personal symbolism as well as broader cultural inflections.

Marie Jacotey graduated in 2013 from a MA in printmaking at the Royal College of Arts in London after completing an image course at the National Superior School of Decorative Arts in Paris (ENSAD). She was featured as part of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA, London, in 2014 and her first solo exhibition followed shortly thereafter at Hannah Barry Gallery. Recently Jacotey was commissioned a new body of work for the 2015 Salon de Montrouge in Paris.