Last week I wrote about how I’m failing the Bechdel Test by painting very few female characters in my series of pop-culture characters painted in a style inspired by George Condo’s concept of Artificial Realism/Pshychological Cubism. The uncomfortable fact is, this style follows in traditions originated by Georges Braque as well as– wait for it–Pablo Picasso.

To be honest I wasn’t thinking too much of the baggage that Picasso brings to this kind of work when I began, although I was very aware of it. I started to do this as an experiment to see what combining realism with Picasso/Condo style abstraction would look like. Would the characters/celebrities even be recognizable? Would it work at all? When I realized it was working, I started to really have fun with it.

But then I watched Hannah Gadsby’s funny, poignant and, well, uncomfortable Netflix special Nanette. Gadsby clearly states that the show is supposed to be uncomfortable for white men, but it’s especially uncomfortable for a white guy who’s painting in the tradition of Picasso. You see, as it turns out, Gadsby has a degree in Art History and despises Picasso for his misogyny. The fact is, Picasso did not treat his ‘muses’ very well. If you want to argue against the concept of the Male Gaze, Picasso is not a good starting point.

The Queen of Canada, oil on canvas, 2020.

I can’t get too deeply into this here, but I suppose the good thing that most of my muses are men? Hmmm, maybe not. It definitely speaks to under-representation of women in Hollywood. I think I need to do a painting of Fleabag! Anyway, I’ll leave you with this painting of the Queen. Interpret it as you will, but if you think it was painted for the Male Gaze, you’re off your rocker!