- Wangechi Mutu
- mixed media collage and painting on vellum
- 44.5 by 47cm.
- 17 7/8 by 18 1/2 in.
- Executed in 2004.
Goff + Rosenthal Gallery, New York
Wangechi Mutu's arresting and intricate work Untitled juxtaposes combinations of magazine imagery, found materials, and painted surfaces to afford layered dimensions of visual metaphors, depicting the portrait of a woman through the sharp outlines of various cut-outs. Its surfaces utilise conflicting textures to draw a wide range of connotations: from glamour models, to dyed fabrics, diseased skin and science-fiction special effects. The reclining figure is remotely reminiscent of a voluptuous pin-up and a nude Venus, suspended in an indefinite space, while an explosion of blood-like paint dissolves the woman's maternal bodily ideal into the ephemeral form of a butterfly, moving towards the outside of the canvas. In this way Untitled very literally embodies the artist's statement that "I turn the body inside out, extending and reconfiguring it" (interviewed by Isolde Brielmer in: "Part I: The Body", Wangechi Mutu: A Shady Promise, Bologna, 2008, p.20). Bridging the symbiotic spheres of Africa and the West, Mutu pieces together a body that defies ready identification and is beyond stereotypical judgement, yet wears all its inner conflicts through the prism of neo-psychedelic splendour.