Tickle Torture
Kristy Luck, Maja Ruznic & Holly Mills

Preview Thursday 9 March 6-8pm
Exhibition 10 March – 15 April 2017

Beers London is excited to present Tickle Torture, an exhibition that brings together three contemporary female painters, including Bosnia-Herzegovinan born Maja Ruznic, American Kristy Luck, and British artist Holly Mills. The exhibition celebrates color, gesture, and a shared figurative language that flirts with abstraction. Tickle Torture, titled after one of Ruznic’s paintings, presents work that is simultaneously subtle and violent, suggestive and direct, and offers the viewer an exploration into uncanny places where contradiction is natural and morality is questioned.

Historically, the work of female artists has been marginalized and overlooked. Does gender become relevant to reading art, and is the female experience inherently present in the artwork made by women? Ruznic, Luck and Mills make work that leaks and questions boundaries, fully embracing the historically pejorative qualities associated with being a woman. Aside from this undeniably large and controversial topic of discussion, Ruznic, Luck and Mills exhibit an undeniably keen sensibility and intuitive approach to mark-making.The act of tickling is something all three woman share in their painterly language. Tickling being an action performed by fingers upon the body to arouse pleasure, and possibly discomfort, suggests not only sexuality and desire but also violence and terror. This kind of contradiction contained in gesture is also what gives the paintings of these three women their potency.

To be tickled is something pleasurable yet unbearable – something which may induce laughter whilst providing an unendurable sensation. Both tickling and torturing are physical acts upon a body that provoke strong, visceral reactions much like the paintings of Ruznic, Luck and Mills – bold yet seductive, raw and intoxicating in their palette. The paintings in Tickle Torture lead us to consider how the process of painting may be an act of pleasurable torture for the artists. Art-making is simultaneously a constructive and destructive process – just think of Bacon discussing revelations in the studio that arose from his attempts to destroy various works. Artists often talk about the notion of ‘obsession’ and ‘compulsion’ when creating, or how their highest derivation of pleasure comes from the confines of their studios: a prison of undeniable passion. The alchemical process of culling forms and shapes from stains and marks is riveting but also evokes the feeling of being lost on an island by oneself. Ruznic, Luck and Mills seem to be comfortable with ambiguity and displacement and invite the viewer to weave their own narratives on top of those left by their luscious swaths of color.

Maja Ruznic, who previously worked exclusively with water-based mediums and has recently made a exploration into oil painting with her latest body of work, ‘Soil as Witness’, allows the paint to bleed and run of its own accord. By concentrating on colour rather than line, her works become abstract landscapes from which the viewer’s innate pareidolia discerns figures and faces. Kristy Luck is similar to Ruznic in that her seemingly abstract canvasses evoke a primordial recognition of biological symbolism. Blurred bodies of colour hide natural shapes: bodies, shells, eyes, petals. Her chosen medium of oil and wax on canvas allow her mark-making to become fluid and instant which, in turn, gives life to the fantastical imagined creatures that surface in each piece. Holly Mills similarly allows her chosen medium – be it acrylic, oil or ink – to enact itself within the confines of her original vision. Her works are very much based around the exploration of how this process can define itself, and how she can act symbiotically with paint. Mills’ works, particularly those on paper, seem more decisive than Ruznic’s or Luck’s, which seem to flow between amorphous and languid figures, perhaps more content to relinquish a degree of their ownership over the final work to paint itself. Together, they raise interesting questions about female authorship in contemporary art making, as well as a related yet distinct relationship between the three artists.


Maja Ruznic (b. 1983, Bosnia & Herzegovina) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a BFA from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005 and an MFA from the California College of Arts, San Francisco in 2009. Solo exhibitions include; ‘The Wailing Sisters’, CES Gallery, Los Angeles, 2016; ‘Soil as Witness’, Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, 2016; and ‘Untitled’, Candyland, Stockholm, Sweden. Two person exhibitions include; ‘The Boogeyman is Here’ with Luz Maria Sanchez, She Works Flexible, Houston Texas, 2015; and ‘Lonely Hunters’ with Ranee Henderson, Eastside International, Los Angeles, 2015. Group exhibitions include; ‘By the River’, ACME, Los Angeles, 2017; ‘With Liberty and Justice for Some’, Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles, 2017; ‘Phantom Limb’, Shulamit Nazarian Gallery, Los Angeles, 2016; and ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’, Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna, Austria, 2015.


Kristy Luck (b. 1985, Los Angeles, California) lives and works in LA. She graduated in 2010 with a BFA in Printmaking from Rockford University, Rockford, and in 2014 with a MFA in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has had a solo exhibition with Eastside International (ESXLA), Los Angeles, California. Group exhibitions include; ‘Ocotillo’, Stella Elkins Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 2017; ‘Women on the Fence’, Mothership, Desert Hot Springs, CA, 2016; ‘Velvet Ropes’, GIFC Worldwide, Brooklyn, NY, 2016; and ‘Got it for Cheap’, a show rotating between Copenhagen, Stockholm, Paris and London, curated by Charlie Roberts, 2016. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago between 2013 and 2016.


Holly Mills (b. 1990, London, UK) lives and works in London. She graduated from Camberwell College of Arts with a BA in Illustration in 2012, the same year she won the V&A student illustrator of the year award. Selected exhibitions include; T’he Jungle Book Club’, Book Club, London, 2015; ‘Secret 7”’ and ‘Pick Me Up’, Somerset House, London, 2015; ‘Cluster Puck’, Print Space, London; and ‘V&A Illustration Awards’, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2012.