The combative artist gets a large retrospective

There is no denying that throughout the history of art, the bulk of works has come from men who portrayed women as objects or, at best, highly desirable muses. Luckily, plenty of recent artists have stepped up to challenge the status quo. One of them is Viennese painter Florentina Pakosta, who turned her gaze on men, examining their facial ex­pressions and body language in detail and deconstructing masculine power.

For her 85th birthday, the Alberti­na is dedicating a large-scale retro­spective to her highly political work. Having studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, as well as in Prague, Paris and Amsterdam, she became an official member of the Vienna Secession in 1971, organizing an exhibition of female-made art in 1978, the “Secessionistinnen.”

Her early work consists of psycho­logically driven, surrealistic images that attack patriarchal power structures and reverse traditional gender roles, the im­ages often becoming caricatures or even monstrosities where people arm them­selves with strange attributes that may or may not be attached to their heads. But Pakosta has done a lot more than agitate against the discrimination of women in the art world. In the ’80s, her works focused heavily on uniformity, control and the disappearance of the in­dividual under capitalism, portraying tightly packed crowds and repetitive motifs. As she attempts to make sense of today’s world, she’s moved away from the representational into her cur­rent constructivist phase, creating se­ries of geometric beams in just three colors, Trikolore Bilder. Along with fel­low titans Maria Lassnig and Valie Ex­port, Pakosta is considered one of the most important representatives of Aus­trian feminist art. This comprehensive exhibit shows that her art remains pain­fully relevant.

Through Aug 29, Albertina.
1., Albertinaplatz 1. albertina.at