Mickalene Thomas‘s paintings are alive and elaborately adorned with rhinestones, yep, rhinestones, that all-american symbol of bling. Her depictions of African American women are wonderfully provocative in their blaxploitation poses surrounded by kitschy patterns. However, what’s most interesting about Thomas’ paintings is how she balances pop culture references and 19th Century paintings, by the likes of Manet, Matisse and Bearden, in her pictures to talk about femininity and power.
This riotous mix of colour, bling, contemporary pop, art history femininity and power create an overwhelming body of work. A real feast for the eyes and while it may across as tongue in cheek it also hits home a powerful social and political message. It’s a difficult balance and one she carries off with aplomb.
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