The art world has always attracted those of us who are a little different. In the famous words of Nigel in The Devil Wears Prada, art and fashion are “a shining beacon of hope for… oh, I don’t know… lets say a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers, pretending to go to soccer practice when he was really going to sewing class and reading Runway under the covers at night with a flashlight.”
From ancient Greece to Mapplethorpe, the art world has often attracted gay, trans and queer people, beckoning society’s marginalized figures as a sanctuary removed from society’s rigid conventions, a space to breathe freely and express their true selves. In honor of Pride Month, it’s time to get our #queergaze on, so we did a roundup of some of our favorite contemporary queer artists from around the world. From the obscure to the written-up-by-Jerry-Saltz, they work with a variety of subjects and mediums to tear down taboos around identity in the art world, explore and celebrate the beautiful complexities of queerness. After all, what’s art about if not challenging conventional thinking and celebrating difference?
I Wake With Yew in Mourning,
In her wall-sized, surreal paintings, Quarles channels the volatile cocktail of power and vulnerability that is being a queer woman of color. Her work is deeply political and focuses on identity and all its often-murky boundaries, a reaction to being mistaken for white throughout her life. Full of warm colors and ethereal flowers, her palettes inspire a sense of optimism and hope.
We love the way her bodies, all graceful curves and elegant long limbs, seem to dance across the canvas, filling up the space and turning heads like a gorgeous and confident woman strutting into the party, fashionably late, of course.
Her work is currently on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, with upcoming exhibitions at the MATRIX Art Museum at UC Berkeley and at the Pilar Corrias Gallery in London. For more updates, follow her on Instagram.
Should we hide from the others? Collaborative series with Lea Fernandes.
In June 2017, Paris-based photographer, video artist and painter Yayoshka Porché put out a call for queer artists to share their stories and be featured in a multi-media project titled Qu’ouïr. Since then, she has been collecting portraits, videos and artwork from other queer artists across Paris and France, working to increase visibility and build community. Her own work is stark, minimal and often sensual, letting the subjects speak for themselves, and her darkly hilarious, tongue-in-cheek comics will make you lighten up and reschedule your existential crisis.
Check out her work and the Qu’ouïr project on Instagram.
Illustration done for Pride Month.
Anisha Khullar is an Indian, genderfluid artist and illustrator based in Southampton, England. Though their work covers a wide array of subjects, from the Zodiac to Harry Potter, it is consistent in its exuberant and whimsical style. Much of their Instagram features queer women of color of all shapes and sizes, joyful and enjoying life. That’s #queerpower.
Bloomless Seasons, 2018.
Portland-based artist Donavon Sinclair’s drawings and paintings toe the line between Picasso, Egon Schiele and those blind line drawings your teacher made you do in Design 100. Even if you can’t make heads or tails of it, literally, his work gives a peek into the deeply emotional landscape of a queer artist.
You could spend hours decoding his paintings in search of hidden shapes and hidden meaning. Though he’s still relatively undiscovered, we hope big things are in store for him… and in the meantime, find more of his work on, you guessed it, Instagram.
London-based Hetty Douglas makes Cy Twombly-esque paintings influenced by abstract and graffiti. Raised in a family of artists, she grew up playing with her mom’s paintbrushes the way other kids play with their moms’ high heels.
We love her sparse, cerebral take on modern culture—and Supreme loves her menswear-inspired style, featuring her as a model in their editorials, yet another example of fashion drawing endless inspiration from art. As her career shoots off in so many directions, we love that Douglas refuses to be boxed into one style, medium or industry, showing proving that an art girl can really do it all.
Follow her for more art, style inspiration and cute photos of her wife.
Text via Katya Lopatko
Photos via rfc.museum, instagram, leafernandes, dazeddigital