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“Shaping the Figural Gaze” an Online Exhibition in response to Bustes de Femmes

“Shaping the Figural Gaze” an Online Exhibition in response to Bustes de Femmes

The Gagosian states that the selected group of “paintings, sculptures, and photographs on view demonstrate how the female figure has been reimagined and reconfigured by modern and contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds and traditions,” however, it features only 5 female-identifying artists out of 28 artists total. Of these 28 artists, a majority are white. This leads to an exhibit that not only is lacking in a diversity of backgrounds and traditions, but one that is also blatantly ignoring the conjunctions between race and gender.

Unfortunately, the exhibit put on by the Gagosian is only too representative of past and current norms surrounding the viewpoints society platforms for creation and consumption surrounding the figural.

We wish to counter Bustes de Femmes and the other of 1000s of exhibits like it, by presenting the works of femxle and queer identifying artists whose skill in figural portraiture demonstrates a diverse array of contemporary visions, sensitivities, and/or ideals, that usurp or unconventionally assume the traditional utilization of the male and/or dominant gazes. The goal is to address institutionalized gender roles and gendered racial stereotypes, and the subsequent sexism and racism perpetuated by them. This is in order to facilitate the interrogation and examination of the traditional motives and depictions of gender and sex, while proposing new or uncommon narratives. These ideas will be addressed from queer and femxle perspectives that are traditionally unheard from, in order to reimagine and reconstruct traditional racialized and gendered power structures upon which these institutionalized spaces were built and thrive. This is in order to combat the unequal ratio of queer and femxle art and perspectives that are being showcased within the museum and art worlds via institutions.


Men are one of my favorite subjects, as they can be very beautiful, and I like to add something different to the History of Art narrative that seems to be all about the female body, which is such a narrow idea. Art is a way of looking at things and as artists we have this huge chance to make a difference.  With my body of work I’ve always wanted to invite people to look at things in a different way, never assuming, never take anything for granted. It’s a great exercise that everyone can practice, daily.

We live in a very exciting time when , thanks to the internet we can have our voices heard more than ever before and I want to use this chance to state more loudly than ever that the we need to look at the world and the life that populate it with respect, with curiosity, with kindness. Things like this last pandemic showed us very clearly, if there was a need, that everything is connected. My entry for Shaping the figural gaze is an attempt to stress all the things and an invite to love differences, 

to be kind to ourselves and the others, because as Virginia Woolf said in her “A room of one’s own”: “Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities?”

Mary Cinque Paco

Mary Cinque Paco


Published on 02-May-2021

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“Shaping the Figural Gaze” an Online Exhibition in response to Bustes de Femmes

Mary Cinque Paco

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