KUKULI VELARDE: THE COMPLICIT EYE

On view through March 16, 2019

The Complicit Eye, Kukuli Velarde’s first major solo show of painting in the US, deconstructs ideals of female beauty

Kukuli Velarde. Untitled poem, New York, 1992
Kukuli Velarde. “Untitled poem,” New York, 1992 The poem was written during the 500 year anniversary of Europe’s arrival in the Americas.

from colonization to the local barrio. Velarde dissects the construction and consumption of beauty in Western culture, exposing the connections between beauty and violence. Through painting, sculpture, and performance, Velarde confronts the reality of female objectification, oppressive beauty standards, and the marginalization of women of color.

At the heart of this exhibition is the notion of complicity, the complicated give-and-take of acceptance and resistance. In a series of life-sized full-body portraits painted on aluminum, Velarde presents herself in multiple guises–the would-be pinup beauty, the goddess, the cultural stereotype, the comic-book superhero–always occupying the position of the observant, self-aware outsider. Her performative self-portraits draw attention to the ways in which we are complicit in the production and promulgation of ideas about femininity–which have substantial effects on the lives of women.

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