The selected works aim to probe the socially constructed reality of feminine beauty and its relation to the male gaze in contemporary, neoliberal society.
The selected works aim to probe the socially constructed reality of feminine beauty and its relation to the male gaze in contemporary, neoliberal society. Working with acrylic on canvas the artist continues her unabashed social commentary, reflecting upon what she encounters on the streets of Beirut and beyond in the cybersphere where international mass media and social media platforms continue to shape and reinforce limiting and dominant visions of gender. Darghouth, who regularly connects far-flung influences from literature, philosophy and music to her personal experiences in the modern world now turns to Greek mythology as her point of departure. Pandora was the fabled first woman to be constructed in ancient Greek society and unleashed with unrivalled physical beauty and immense sexual allure.
The artist, probes the fabricated nature and superficiality of Pandora, a woman over whom Aphrodite ‘spilled grace’ and whose destiny was to become “an evil men will love to embrace”. Conflating the classical with the contemporary throughout this body of work; Pandora, Darghouth reasons, is a myth but so too is the Barbie doll. Barbie's plastic physique has become a modern icon associated with pre-packaged western gender expectations and superficiality. The selected works see Dargouth’s paintbrush activate and amplify the constructed nature of human fictions and the fetishised status of femininity. Skulls, which have featured regularly in the artist's output since 2010, are included here refer back to her preoccupation with the notion of ‘Memento mori’ and feel all the more poignant now given the backdrop and context of this exhibition. Dargouth also interrogates the frail and fair frame of the Barbie doll, the unquestioned and iconised beauty of Venus and Aphrodite, glossed lips, the human torso and mannequin dummies which exist to be draped. Through prominent, layered brushstrokes and swift flicks of the wrist the artist engages in her own form of seduction as she pushes the viewer to consider her subjects anew.