Their conviction and intensity register in choice of color and the way they make ersatz flesh of oil and canvas glow with personified light, blush and angst. Mind is inseparable from body in the majority of these works, and so the physical dimensions of these women -- their braless breasts and curving hips -- connect a truthfulness of rendition with a willingness to reveal themselves psychologically. Such is the case in the paradoxically calm and cataclysmic paintings by Simoni Trapsioni, whose work seems to draw equal inspiration from surrealist and religious art.
Both Monica Cook and Amy L. Freeman address their own bodies, but in remarkably different ways. Paint is applied with a mellow, diffused glow in Cook's work, and in vivid, intense swaths in Freeman's astoundingly visceral paintings. Cook appears haunted by the expectations of femininity, while Freeman seems thrilled by the challenge of defying expectation.
In "Kitty," Cook awkwardly clutches a nearly fetal, oversized animal in some metaphor for ambivalent maternalism. In an untitled work, she reluctantly dons a masquerade of geisha femininity.
Fuck passivity, Freeman's frenetic, furious, drained-of-blood colors and frank posture imply.
Playing with the rosy nipples and miles of white flesh offered up in oil painting's esteemed history of highbrow porn, Freeman poses for "Steady" with her nearly nude body contorted to defiantly give her backside to her audience. In "Collapsible," the artist again uses her own body to make a scathing, exhilarating point. The title may refer to the cheapo plastic lawn chairs all around her, or it may refer to the artist's own luxuriantly real, womanly body with its unbound breasts and petulant tummy. Freeman's style is so earthy and confrontational, you want to high-five the canvas.
Though Loretta Mae Hirsch's works are more folksy and less technically skilled than the other artists in By My Self, the way the artist poses topless in a white tulle skirt, pink sunglasses and other totems of girliness is in keeping with other work in the show, which challenges viewers with smart-alecky attitude.
Mia Merlin's wonderfully rendered paintings also play with the typical condition of women surveyed in painting and photographs. The artist's highly analytical work foregrounds her presence as both a viewer and an "object" in the painting, making us aware of the degree of intervention and construction involved.
Shana Robbins rejects feminine passivity by masquerading -- badly -- as a flower in "Can't Fool Mother Nature." Robbins has a great moody, apocalyptic quality mixed in with her humor. She has a gift for displacing cataclysm, thought and fury onto the landscape and formal flourishes, as in the striking self-portrait "Dwelling on Magic" where the artist fixes you with a dark, meaningful stare, fierce charcoal swirls circling around her head like wasps.
It is inspiring to see the women in By My Self shrugging off the limiting ball-and-chain of muse-dom for something more individualistic. After centuries of being painted for how they seem, these women are demanding we look at them for how they are.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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