What if all the submissive, exploited women in art and cinema history got their revenge, what if they turned the tables, reversed the gaze and took control. Well, you don’t have to imagine, because it’s come true in young English artist Somaya Critchlow’s new show of paintings.
Nude or semi-nude women fill every canvas, all posing seductively in darkened, secret rooms. But there’s no cutesy coquettishness here, there’s murder and violence in the air. Almost every figure stares right out at the viewer, aggressively, confrontationally luring you to enter their trap. It’s hazy, dark, full of soft focus 1970s erotica vibes, but the subjects are in control. These paintings throb with threat and menace. The maid could poison you, the nude woman could be hiding a knife.
There are tons of art historical and cultural reference points too: Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’, Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’. Weird, dark allusions for weird, dark paintings.
The handful of drawings are more intimate and private, but the works on canvas are the real draw, especially the three depicting black figures. They’re great, clever, odd paintings; confident, nasty, and absolutely terrifying.