PLAIN REALITY – A NEW SOLO EXHIBITION BY DION CUPIDO
In PLAIN REALITY artist Dion Cupido continues to focus on female portraiture. His fixation with this traditional genre and his gendered slant on it is motivated by a drive to reveal the hidden psychic pain women experience or our expectation that men are exempt from expressing their emotions.
This preoccupation sees him isolating the heads of his subjects. This allows him to translate inner turmoil through facial features and haunting expressions, which hold the viewer’s attention and transport them into the inner worlds of the subjects. In applying graffiti techniques, such as scratching and marking the canvases with lines that disturb a harmonious and traditional surface, Cupido is further able to expose the ways in which inner states mark an identity, shape it. “Experience, history marks us,” says the artist.
The graffiti tagging culture he evokes in his portraits directs attention towards the ways in which his black female subjects struggle to be seen, claim space and are acknowledged in public and private spheres.
Through an open call on Facebook to identify potential sitters for his portraits, Cupido was literally able to create a platform for women. His painterly technique transforms or heightens the presence of these women, accentuating their beauty. He does this with the (conflicted) knowledge that it is through their appearance that his female sitters are able to accrue power and be validated.
Cupido’s strong identification with female figures is rooted in his childhood, growing up in Mitchells Plain in a single female headed household. This experience exposed him to his mother’s power, pain and struggles. As an adult he has undergone psychotherapy which has allowed him to become more conscious of his emotional world and find ways of expressing it, which is so often thought of as a female way of being in the world. As such his female portraits could be read as self-portraits, reflecting different emotional states the artist has experienced. In our patriarchal society where men are expected to repress their feelings and remain impenetrable it is easier for emotions other than anger to be relayed via female subjects.
Cupido is always looking for ways to challenge himself and PLAIN REALITY will present a new mode of portraiture that is a fusion of painting and collage. These works are the result of reassembled ripped paintings collaged with other diverse materials. This new mode allows him to further reveal inner subjectivity; namely the ways in which identity is constituted via various disparate parts.