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