THE BLOG

Painting Feminism

01/23/2016 07:25 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2016

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Rebecca Campbell, Miss April 1971, 2016, oil on canvas, 72" x 156"

I am watching women disappear. I'm not a theorist but of course I want to have a say in the course of history so I'm using what I do in a very literal way. I'm painting portraits of every woman artist I know. It's a simple gesture. I'm painting them so they will not disappear. The almost performative extension of this project has been the many hours I spend hearing each of their different and powerful perspectives.

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Rebecca Campbell, Mpambo, 2015, acrylic on paper, 30" x 22"

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Rebecca Campbell, Alexandra, 2015, acrylic on paper, 30" x 22"

I'm also making another series more difficult to explain . It started as part of a collaboration with artist Samantha Fields. We each chose a news item from the day we were born to respond to with an artwork. I chose a society piece on a party at the "Playboy Mansion."

Collaging with contrasting tapes on Miss April 1971 I created something both beautiful and terrible. The image was so absorbing and quarrelsome I was inspired to monumentally remake it. The 6' x 14' image was first painted realistically then troweled over with waxy medium, 90% of the original painting obliterated.

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Rebecca Campbell, Miss April 1971 (details,) 2016, oil on canvas, 72" x 156"

I became infatuated with this paradox and made 2 more paintings. A penthouse model burqaed in silver glitter, and a portrait of Candy Darling, cocooned in whitewash and gold leaf.

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Rebecca Campbell, Glitter Girl (detail,) 2015, oil on canvas, 84" x 65"

Picasso would twist a woman in space so you understand the totality of the eye. I'm curious to explore our paradoxical relationship to these patriarchal images of beauty and desire, at once seduced and repulsed. Slabs of paint are suffocating violation, protective barrier and teasing veil. These are not linear narratives the way cubist space was not linear.

Quantum physicists have proved it but artist have always known it. Particles exist in multiple places at once. Truth is not a fixed point. Artists are the guardians of the freedom to be broken.

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Rebecca Campbell, Candy Darling, 2015, oil on canvas, 60" x 60"

As women demand equity there is sometimes a call to circle the wagons. This is practical for survival mode. As we get closer to attaining justice I hope we also see tolerance for inconsistency and brokenness. Some of my favorite male creators are broken. Belmer, Balthus, Scheile, DeSade, Fragonard, Cheever, Bataille. I want this privilege for myself. I want to explore dissonance and instead of having it translated into a betrayal of my gender it might be translated as a meditation on the labyrinth of our human experience.

Rebecca Campbell is an artist living in Los Angeles represented by LA Louver. You can see more on rebeccacampbell.net or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Campbell's exhibition of portraits "You Are Here" can be seen at LA Louver 45 North Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA (January 13 through February 13.) Concurrent to the L.A. Louver exhibition, Campbell's work may be seen in Dreams of Another Time, a two-person exhibition with Samantha Fields, curated by Kristina Newhouse at the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach ( January 30 - April 10). A solo exhibition of Campbell's work titled The Potato Eaters will be on view at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, California ( May 7- July 24) and travels to Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, Utah (September 30, 2016 - February 18, 2017).You can see more of her work on rebeccacampbell.net or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

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