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Archive > amanda Riojas: Femme

For me, existence becomes life in small fleeting moments of casual phenomenon, like those instances where sunlight filters through your eyelashes just enough to bounce and reflect off the liquid substructures of your eye, projecting a prismatic rainbow flare into your field of view. That kind of transient moment is just magnificent enough to make me ponder life's many manifestations and infinite possibilities. Much like those rainbow projections of our visible color spectrum, identity and self-expression are gradients of limitless variation.

The portraits in FEMME, aesthetically birthed from glamour shots, are the collected representations of transgressive individuality, likely molded from my own experience as a non-definable individual with no easily identifiable racial, gender, or religious identity. I wanted to capture these various and unique associations with femininity as I feel it - through bold, highlighted, vibrant illustration. FEMME is a contemporary response to portraiture not confined by modern standards of beauty where negative stigma is assigned to natural bodies, non-idealistic features, abilities, or traits. The Femmes show off their idiosyncrasies and can appear racially and sexually ambiguous with the commonality being their femininity.

After moving to Melbourne from the U.S. in 2016, I began to work primarily with gouache and now use it frequently for its smoothness in conjunction with fluorescent ink for its unmatched brightness and luminance. Brighter colors, reflecting more light into the eyes, help the portrait invite its viewer into a conversation with, and examination of the subject.

Reflecting upon my own childhood in the largely Catholic region of San Antonio, Texas, there is perhaps a subconscious influence of religious iconography, composition, and symbolism in my work. Similar to religious narrative paintings, these portraits seem to have an accompanying story, discrete universes surrounding the alluring Femme captured in each stimulating snapshot. In this way, the portraits become an icon of intersectionality: the subject and their story. I am stylistically influenced by my youth obsession with Bratz and Barbie dolls, low resolution video-game graphics and early internet access merged with the societal issues of my forming adulthood.

These works are a loud celebration of the growing freedom of identity and expression, which I have personally experienced though Australia’s more accepting society.

24 February - 9 March 2017.