What is a female aesthetic?
So my initial question questions what I had planned to start with. What does a female aesthetic mean in contemporary painting? Is it just a matter of experimenting with juxtaposing colours and shapes? Soft edges, or hard edges. I am reminded of Joan Eardley's The Sea at Catterline, which I recently came across in the Aberdeen Art Gallery collection. It seemed to me feminine in both a passionate irrational but at the same time calm and peaceful way. I imagine that it spoke to me because I see myself sometimes in a similar way. I have my days of big waves but I also have days of smooth sailing. And there's also a joy in the expression of the force of nature, and I find that force sometimes takes over, especially when I'm involved in painting on a large scale.
But what is a female aesthetic? In a non-gender-biased world, I would describe a female aesthetic as soft, round, wholesome, balanced, but also, as above, passionate, irrational and forceful. Balance may be about finding an equilibrium between these aspects or by merely allowing each their space and time. Aesthetics is about a shared idea of beauty. The female aesthetic is a lens that focuses on female beauty in all its shapes and sizes and particular mannerisms. I find it challenging to label things as each woman is an individual with their own individual expressions. The question comes back to how identity is expressed through art. For myself, I start to question how my relationship with paint expresses my gender, my history and my life situation. And how and what in my life do I identify with within a gallery collection? More importantly, how can my expression of the female experience impact people today? It may be simply the recognition of the human experience or identifying with the universality of experience, be it women at work, in the background caring and supporting others, struggling to assert their independence and rights, dealing with differing contexts and roles. Can we appreciate the positives, the sensuality of the female within the struggle? There is multidimensionality to woman, so how can we celebrate this?