Throughout history, artists – who up-till-now have predominantly been male – have depicted women as perfect, airbrushed beauties. Of course, we agree that these women are undoubtedly beautiful; but they are not exactly realistic depictions of the female form. As the fashion world has started including models of all shapes and sizes, there are a number of women artists who have also been celebrating body diversity, portraying ladies of all ages, ethnicities and sizes within our work. Here we round up some of our favourite body positive female artists.
Caroline Wong @carolinewong_art
Can you recall any images of Asian women that haven’t been highly stereotyped and sexualised? No? Us neither. Through her paintings Caroline Wong is working to change that. Illustrating real Asian women, she depicts tattooed ladies drinking beer and scrolling through their smartphones, adding a touch of realness to art history’s understanding of the Asian female.
Yumna Al-Arashi @yumnaaa
Photographer and filmmaker Yumna Al-Arashi takes images of women that we don’t often see. Inside a hammam (Turkish bath) in Beirut or high-up in the Andes, she focuses her lens on the voices of women that are often silenced. She also takes badass unapologetic nude self-portraits, and was also the second woman in Playboy’s history to photograph herself for its pages, documenting her body and presenting it to the world on her terms.
Shona McAndrew @shona_mcandrew
Shona McAndrew’s nudes carry insane millennial feels. Tan lines, tattoos and curves in all the right places, all captured in a distinct pink-tinged colour palette: this is realness we can get behind. The work is a comment on her own experiences as a plus-size woman and her struggles with societal expectations of womanhood, something I think all gallery girls can relate to.
Hiba Schahbaz @hiba_schahbaz
Hiba Schahbaz’s work is heavily influenced by Indo-Persian miniature paintings, which she then blows up hundreds of times. Her works are often depictions of herself, embracing an exclusively female perspective. By unveiling the beauty, fragility and strength of the female form, Schahbaz’s women contemplates personal freedom destruction, sexuality and censorship.
Tschabalala Self @tschabalalaself
You don’t forget a work by Tschabalala Self easily. Full of oomf and personality, her characters are larger than life depictions of black female bodies in contemporary culture. Self’s figures dissect fantasies surrounding the black body, and aim to reposition understandings of black femininity, and we’re totally here for it.
Cristina Banban @cristina_banban
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. WHEN I AM WITH HIM, 2019 180 x 150 cm acrylic on canvas. . . Thank you to everyone who came to the opening and visit the show during Berlin Gallery Weekend. And thank you to the whole team @68projects and @kornfeldgalerie for a great job. “I’ve got nothing to lose” runs until June 22. . #cristinabanban #68projects #kornfeldgalerie #contemporaryart
Cristina BanBan’s paintings are big, bouncy and beautiful. Her figures illustrate the banality of our life in a cartoonish, larger-than-life way, drawing us to think about our own bodies, and how they are represented within society.
Annie Kurkdjian @akurkdjian
While Annie Kurkdjian doesn’t exclusively paint women, we have huge appreciation for her somewhat comical depictions of women in intimate moments. Her works include women shown shaving their pubic hair – I mean, have you ever seen a hairy renaissance nude – or women she confronted with their own bodies, looking down at their own flesh, or pondering their reflection in a mirror.
Sara Anstis @sara.anstis
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Venus at the Beach, pastel on paper ???? in current issue of @elephantmagazine and soon in Zurich at @fabian___lang ! Made while on residency in LA (thanks to @royaldrawingschool????) at @esmoaorg which I will miss dearly. I spent the whole summer between the beach and the studio and discovered the terrible joy of stepping on tar in the sand
Sarah Anstis’s work puts a spotlight on female sexuality and desire, something that is rarely depicted within art history. Conveying a slightly surrealistic tone, her images are an exploration of memories and desires. There is a cheeky, fun side to the pastel drawings, adding a bit of colour to our understanding of women.