You enter your bathroom, ready to strip off the clothes that have accompanied you throughout the day, you are surrounded by shiny tiles and an intent light hits your naked body, highlighting all those flaws you will observe and hate. A mirror reflects the contents of your soul, the body that tells who you are and appears to others every day. It is the moment of confrontation, painful most of the time. The works in oil and acrylic on canvas by U.S. artist Sarah Slappey speak of this pain, suffering and anxiety to maintain-or rather, to try to achieve-those imposed standards of beauty.
An interweaving of bodies, particularly limbs (feet and hands) stand out overbearingly against a grid background that leads right back to the bathroom environment and its typical tiles, creating a contrast between chaos and perfection. The hands and arms, distinctive elements of her production, are accompanied in her more recent works by feet and legs. These two elements create a further contrast: on the one hand the hands, soft and gentle, caressing and cuddling, on the other hand the feet, rough and overbearing, trampling, crushing. This is accentuated by the artist’s rendering of the latter, especially highlighting the veins and creases that are created on the back and sole. Both limbs are shiny, silky, hairless but with obvious scars, cuts, and drops of blood. They are penetrated by pins that pierce the fictitious skin, almost perfect in mannequin manners, making explicit the constant sacrifice enacted especially by women. Sarah Slappey does not actually refer to a particular genre but, elements such as beads, bows, hairpins and threads, clearly refer back to the female universe, resulting in autobiographical at times. Sleppey’s works contain a strong tension that oscillates between sensuality and brutality, seeking to overturn the typical representation of the female body that has always been dominated by men. The twists and touches reveal a sexuality that merges with restlessness, posing the viewer with the question “how do bodies feel?“