What is the significance of not possessing the aesthetic markers of belonging ? How do we react to society’s expectations and find a balance with our personal reality ? Jessica Soares shares her frustrating personal experience in the painting exhibition “Who We Are When The Glory Is Gone” at ReLe Gallery. Presented until October 21, 2023, this is the contemporary artist’s first painting exhibition. Through her works, she reveals how she feels about her own experience of alopecia, a condition characterized by thinning and hair loss. The exhibition offers a poignant insight into how she feels about this condition, and invites viewers to reflect on how we can cope with a society that values normative beauty criteria.
The title of the exhibition “Who We Are When The Glory Is Gone” is inspired by the reference to a woman’s hair as a crowning glory. The series of works presented reveals in images the dissonance between the way we present ourselves to the world and the true realities. Here, Jessica Soares shows how she feels deprived of this glory due to her hair loss. The wigs and scarves painted by the artist appear as masks that serve to hide the other side of the story.
Similarly, the etchings of almost desiccated plants and flowers, and the figures dressed in brightly colored Victorian gowns, serve to accentuate the femininity of the subjects depicted. Other details can also be seen in Jessica Soares‘ work, notably frames within frames. Through this representation, the artist seeks to depict the excessive interest we take in the image we project. Some of the women painted by the artist hold a mirror in their hands. The omnipresence of this reflective object serves in duality as both confrontation and distortion.
The desire to belong is a fundamental and inherent human feeling. However, the arbitrary markers established by society stand in the way of the full development of this desire. Jessica Soares‘ work communicates a critical note that calls on individuals to revise their perceptions so as to enable others to belong fully to society without being shattered by these arbitrary aesthetic standards.
By putting her own experience of hair loss on the canvas, Jessica Soares invites viewers to question broader themes, but always intrinsic to beauty norms and aesthetics. Being an extensible subject to relate to many situations, “Who We Are When The Glory Is Gone” becomes a starting point for addressing the importance of material aesthetics and the difficulty of acclimatizing with the recurrences of being.
Jessica Soares‘ paintings contain narratives and testimonies that identify beauty as a burden, shifting the work from the artist’s individual feelings and realities to a shared reality. In her artistic practice, she creates a vivid, conflicted and intimate spectrum of paintings, translating a figurative yet surreal invitation into this state of emptiness.
“Who We Are When The Glory Is Gone” is a poignant artistic presentation by Jessica Soares that expresses a random reality between a sense of loss of identity in the face of aesthetic expectations, and a reconciliation with oneself in a world that often denies us a place when we don’t appear to fit the aesthetic criteria of beauty.