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At a first glance, one views Slappey’s surreal works, almost like a dark adult cartoon, kinky, sensual, and sexually charged. However, the fleshy tones depicting female body parts and phallic-shaped props suggest an alternate world where a sexualized male gaze has been overcome.
In Slappey’s artworks, the female form is only portrayed by those who possess it. The American female artist works with the intention of removing feminine shame from the nude figure.
In Tied Up II the scenario thickens as additional elements add to a bondage-suggestive “Tied-Up” with elements like marble, pearls, chain link, and clouds. Slappey has said she imagines “bodies as so overtly female/gendered that they become aggressive and threatening”.
This edition is based on Slappey’s painting “Tied Up II”, which she presented during her first international debut in 2020, the solo exhibition “Tenderizer” at Galerie Maria Bernheim in Zurich, Switzerland.
The composition of the piece is overwhelmed with dynamic imagery that shows female hands grasping plump buttocks and tampon strings embellished with luminous pearls that were developed using a palette of elegant pink tones.
“I’ve always worked with the human figure and used photographic references in the past. At some point a few years ago, I needed a hand, and I thought, ‘I don’t have time to take photos, why don’t I just draw it from my imagination, and it was leagues easier and more interesting than I anticipated. So I started making small hand paintings and drew the fingers the way they felt, rather than anatomically correct. Eventually, the hands became arms or legs, and connected to torsos or breasts. I had to grow my own figure from the fingers out, and now I know this body intimately and can morph and develop it as the work develops.” —Sarah Slappey