For me it’s always been important to see and hear dissonant women within the culture. My attitudes about women were formed when I was made to feel humiliated for being a “girlish" little boy. To me, THAT is a very engrained heritage of misogyny that goes unnoticed for the most part. I have a theory that gay men are fascinated by powerful, flamboyant women because it’s so validating to see that feminine principle we identify with rise up and command reverence. In this painting I wanted her to be a symbol of power and discordance, so I mixed some elements of the Virgin Queen, the Salem Witches and punk. I wanted her to be defiant and fearless of burning for her authority. So I thought it would be a good idea to have her mouth somehow resemble a smoking gun.
Known for his surrealistic portraits of elongated women with stretched oval faces and simplified features, self taught artist Troy Brooks once joked that, had he gone to art school, it would have “fixed” his work’s most defining characteristic. “One thing that used to drive me crazy was that I always made the faces too long. It was something I used to have to go back and fix in my drawings. When I began creating my own characters I decided to just accentuate it,” Brooks says.
Influenced by classic Hollywood films from the 20s, 30s and 40s particularly, the women that he paints have a timeless glamour about them, lit dramatically to give them a sense of eerie seductiveness and intensified emotion. On why he paints women, Brooks relates the subjects in his oil paintings to his own feelings and expereinces as a gay artist who was bullied as a child for being “like a girl”: “The women in my paintings were confrontational and in charge. They had access to everything I felt was out of reach for me. They faced my fears in cryptic tableaux and conquered,” he says. Their androgyny implies their uncompromised sexual identity, where the woman is creating chaos and embracing it with courage, in Brooks words, “completely visible and not backing down.”
This painting depicts the limitations society places on women, corrupting what truly is beautiful by placing them in these prisons of identity. By doing so, society is asking them to become superheroes. The work is an offset of American comics, synonymous to entertainment and fun. This is exactly the goal of the series - a daily struggle against that which is imposed by society and the very expectations we impose on ourselves I keep myself busy in many ways; single mom, business woman, artist, the household, romance, errands. It puts a lot on one’s shoulders. We overwork ourselves. We are all slaves to something or of something. And in comic books, despite all the playfulness of the thing itself and all the “POW BING BAM,” superheroes are also fragile. We are merely human men and women and we are entitled to the flaws and errors. Lets be proud of who we are, be fierce and strong.
Sandra Chevrier, who calls herself a “gaze collector,” creates hyperrealistic paintings of women that stare out towards the viewer. Reinterpreting the superhero mask, Chevrier covers these images with a collage of comic book prints, using scenes from Superman and Batman to conceal the faces of these idealized women. Chevrier selects sections of comic books that portray “fragile heroes,” promoting the idea that vulnerability often underlies heroism. Titled “Cages,” these mixed-media works encourage viewers to consider how the modern woman—like these superheroes—might also be surrounded by expectations of effortless perfection.
Jennybird Alcantara's minutely detailed oil paintings possess un-borrowed symbolism, drawing the viewer deeply into a world both strange and beautiful. Dreamlike narratives form the core her paintings where the complex interconnectedness of opposites appear through the prism of myth, fable and fantasy. Jennybird uses the symbolism of duality to explore the connection of life and death and the veil in between.
Born a minister's son in 1977 in Seoul Korea, Young Chun remembers as a child, living in a small attachment to a hillside church for a brief time. The weekdays spent running around with imaginary friends in the dim empty chapel has fueled his imagination, contributing to his artistic growth. The "chapel" has become a permanent fixture in his creative mind - where he constructs, develops, and stores works in progress, before they ever meet a sketchpad. In 2000, Young received his B.F.A, from the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena California. After several years of painting without clear direction, he stumbled into the opposite end of the spectrum - into the healthcare field - to search for "substance" and "something deeper in life". The years spent working as a respiratory therapist, helping people who were faced with life and death situations, has expanded his outlook in life; adding to his artistic vision. In February of 2011, Young resumed working as a full time artist. He currently lives and works in Orange County, California.