Just for You
November 7, 2009 – January 9, 2010
Woodward Gallery presents “Just for You” – a vital exhibition, complex with concepts and ideas. A playfully surreal vein runs through this body of work, along with a subtle feminist concern and a wink to the masters, old and modern.
Pop Art’s influence emerges in many of the paintings in the form of reversed talk balloons or Lichtenstein paintings taken out of context. This ironic, graphic imagery playfully offset scenes Cristina Vergano painted in the classical style.
Several paintings represent Vergano’s recent obsession with Picasso. In two portraits of his companions, Olga Khokhlova and Francoise Gilot, she brilliantly blends Picasso’s style with her own, and inserts trompe l’oeil clippings of his poetry, drawings and photos. Vergano’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon” – set in a California modernist (whore) house populated with nude beauties – are caught in the act of taking off their African masks to reveal their own animal heads. They recall female versions of Egyptian gods as well as classical statues with a substantial nod to surrealism.
Two powerful, monochromatic life-size canvases feature Muslim women, revealing under their traditional drape, just for you, brightly colored, sexy western lingerie. The Holy Mosque in Mecca and the Shah Mosque in Isfahan are identifiable in the backgrounds of the half-naked women.
These paintings pose immediate questions about the conflict between religion, traditional culture, transgression and personal identity. Are the women identifying with Victoria’s Secret models, or are they true to themselves when wrapped in their burqas?
Finally Cristina Vergano’s 1950’s-style flying saucers seamlessly appear in the distance in some works adding yet another dimension to her already rich paintings. They act as catalysts, symbolizing everything we anticipate of fear: the advent of a golden age, the economic crisis, perhaps even the Rapture.
Vergano once again challenges the viewer to contemplate issues about female identity, expectations and desires, our secret selves, and the role of art in our culture.