In Philly galleries, three must-see shows for December

Frank feminism at Taller Puertorriqueño

Kukuli Velarde, a Peruvian-born Philadelphia artist, is known primarily for her feminist ceramic reinterpretations of pre-Columbian sculptures.

The recipient of a Pew Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is now having her first Philadelphia solo show of paintings, at Taller Puertorriqueno.

“The Complicit Eye” features paintings from 2005 to the present, all of which depict Velarde as the central character in narratives critiquing stereotypical women’s roles. There’s the pin-up girl, the comic book superhero, the goddess, the everyday sex object.

Velarde’s large paintings on aluminum borrow the scale and look of 16th-century Latin American religious paintings, and of the Mexican murals by the all-male roster of Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, and others.

Interestingly, though her works depict Velarde in mostly degrading situations, you sense she’s in control of her destiny.

My first thought on seeing these paintings was that Velarde was channeling Kahlo, but her paintings aren’t uncomfortably personal or narcissistic. They’re disturbing and outspoken.

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