EMERALD WINTER PRIDE ART AWARDS
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.