Diva (UK) - - Upfront -

A cen­tury and a half ago, Manet’s Olympia caused some­thing of an up­roar when it was shown in the Paris Sa­lon of 1865. The cen­tral fig­ure, a woman, re­clines on a bed, adorned with cer­tain dec­o­ra­tions – a bracelet, pearl ear­rings, an orchid in her hair – that would have led con­tem­po­rary au­di­ences to recog­nise her as a pros­ti­tute. More “shocking”, how­ever, was her direct gaze, con­fronting the (typ­i­cally male) viewer and break­ing the con­ven­tion of pas­sive fe­male nudes. The win­ner of this year’s Emer­ald Win­ter Pride Awards, an­nounced last month at the Is­ling­ton Arts Fac­tory, is a strik­ing and clever self-por­trait by an artist known as Rosso, who has painted her­self as Olympia, shaven-headed, tat­tooed and mous­tached. “Self-por­traits are the artist’s most in­ti­mate con­fes­sions,” Rosso ex­plains. “Madame Mous­tache is a state­ment on how I see (or how I’d like to see) my­self as a woman to­day, de­fi­ant of stereo­types and rooted cul­tural prej­u­dices. It is re­ally re­ward­ing to see how this paint­ing, born out of an in­stinc­tive and very per­sonal mo­ment of cre­ativ­ity, now stands on its own and can speak for the LGBTI com­mu­nity.” The awards were open to all, re­gard­less of sex­u­al­ity, so long as the works sub­mit­ted dealt with themes of gen­der, sex­u­al­ity and iden­tity.

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