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Pablo Picasso once said, "Women are machines for suffering." He was not the only man to use and abuse in the name of his art. Margaret Keane's husband took sole credit for her sought-after "big-eye" paintings for years, keeping her quiet by threatening her life. Even Frida Kahlo did not become an icon until long after she was dead.
We know this: erasure and historical revision are simply a curse the "other" must bear. Statistics on the vastly skewed ratio of known and renowned white male artists to any other kind speak for themselves (see: Guerrilla Girls). How many artists have been forgotten, ignored, and abused—all because they are not male, not white, not enough?
Here, Kahlo's stoic portrait acts as a centrepiece, surrounded by a golden sun and a kaleidoscopic arrangement of female figures in silhouette. They could be any woman; they stand for every woman, and the ones who face inward, disrupting the usual pattern, drip blood from their heads—reminding viewers of the punishments bolder women receive.The remainder of the canvas boasts a hyperchaotic collage of acrylic and spray paint, ink, masking tape, gold leaf, and newsprint from media chosen to highlight the differences between how male and female artists have historically been treated and perceived. "Less than average" is the handwritten message scrawled over and over again, and in stark contrast, a singular, standalone phrase: "Bless the average".