Sarah Rupp’s women portraits are deliberately exaggerated, serving as a social commentary on the ways the fashion industry and popular culture portrays women.
“I create art in order to explore not only my own fascinations, but to challenge the artistic language of both my body of work and a larger one: the various ways that women are portrayed in popular culture, fashion, advertising, and even historically,” said Rupp in an interview with Art of Choice. “My work addresses trends associated with ideas of beauty, appearance, and perception. I’m creating a bend on a timeless subject matter, the female form, and also celebrating it.”
Each painting begins with a reference, assembled from a collection of images Rupp finds in fashion magazines and the internet. She then distorts the images, constructing a new or heightened identity to her female subjects.
Using oil paint allows her to thoroughly blend and layer the paint to achieve the desired effect. Smooth, delicate application of paint juxtaposed with a bright, dramatic color palette creates an exciting interplay of shadow and light that both draws attention to her subjects and maintains their enigmatic aura. In this way, she hopes the viewer can feel the physical and psychological tension between beauty and strangeness in the work.
Her portraits might not be “pretty” in the traditional sense but they are striking. Take a look at some of our favorites in the gallery below: