by: Julia Wong
GAZE at the Ayden Gallery showcases the work of female artists exploring the depiction of bodies, and the female identity.
“I chose the artists in this show because I like the way they depict bodies, that is unique to their perception and style. They are realist, but with an element of surrealism. I didn’t want a cartoony, very airbrushed, or stylized look,” said Genevieve Michaels, the curator of GAZE. "[The gaze] is how you experience the world around you, [and] I wanted to explore how that does filter things, and if it was even possible to experience yourself unfiltered."
Illustrator and Emily Carr student, Chelsea O'Byrne's work explores influence of the school uniform on female identity.
"I draw a lot of younger girls, because I’m really interested in children’s books. I tend to draw people who are innocent and would potentially exist outside of the male gaze."
"Inevitably, even younger girls get subjected to standards of beauty and sexiness. My work in the show is all about school uniforms, which is an interesting apparatus in society, where it is supposed to be an equalizer but it really becomes a cultural sex symbol even though it is only worn by children or teenage girls."
"[The gaze is] such a prevalent aspect of our culture that we have gone beyond whether it is good or bad, and it is what it is. It is an interesting thing to explore, to see how that affects different kinds, and groups of people."
A current student at Emily Carr University, Jane Q Cheng works within the historically male-dominated practice of portraiture to subvert the depiction of women.
"With this show, I’m trying to bypass some of these traditions by using subtle feminine tropes of humor."
"I’m placing my paintings in ways that aren’t usually seen in galleries. Instead of placing them at eye level, they’re higher than you would expect, or they’re moved in a weird way, which forces the viewer to look at it in a different way and makes the viewer work for the gaze."
Co-founder of the Laneway Art Collective, Rachael Stableford examines gender roles and ideology through her artwork. "I think femininity exists in everyone and in all things. I painted both males and females and it would be up to the viewer on how they would interpret each image. I was trying to put people in the shoes of what the male gaze would be, and I think it applies to everybody and not just females."
"There is always going to be a power imbalance between man and woman, and that is going to influence how viewers approach the work."
"Some of my work deals with androgyny and doesn’t necessarily have to do with who is viewing, and who is depicted, but the ambiguity and having to interpret that."
GAZE is open for viewing at the Ayden Gallery until February 7th, 2016. More information can be found here: http://www.aydengallery.com/
Thank you to the artists who took the time to discuss their work. More information can be found below:
Jane Q Cheng: