L'Orientale

Oil on Canvas Paper, 36" x 48", 2016

This is a work made in response to nineteenth century French Orientalist paintings, which essentialized, exotified, and sexualized indigenous people.

Such paintings were often created without direct reference and were inspired by dominant Orientalist narratives, prior works of art depicting the Orient, and the European's imaginations. When they were done from reference they were heavily staged, with models directed and posed according to the painter's vision. Women were often arbitrtarily placed in outdoor environments to evoke their supposed connection to their exotic lands.

With this painting I seek to undermine these tropes with a mock Orientalist painting that reveals the staging and absurdity of such historic works. It juxtaposes the stereotypical depiction of an indigenous woman with a classical portrayal of a European woman, such as might be seen in a portrait work of the same period. All this is uncomfortably dropped in a North African landscape.