The artist explained the inspiration behind her recent work to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus,
"I'd had a brilliant chat with Janine Sykes, course leader in MA Curation Practices at Leeds College of Art. We'd talked about the faces we see as beautiful, and this is being changed by digital media and globalised industry. So the idea came together of a show to explore female beauty and its iconic images," says Bay, who works in oil paint on stretched canvas, then creates limited-edition prints in archival ink.Another article, in the Yorkshire Evening Post, noting that Backner's new work focuses on the notion of beauty, stating "She spent six months examining what we see as beauty, how it affects how we see ourselves and what it means around the world for the exhibition, which features brightly coloured, large portraits of the women, painted in a style that harks back to the Golden Age of Hollywood."
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, "The portraits are not based on a single photograph of the women, but the artists’ personal perspective of their image, based on a composite of pictures of them." Iconic beauties such as Hedy Lamarr and Audrey Hepburn, as well as supermodels Kate Moss and Bella Hadid, and artist Frida Kahlo are included among the portraits. As is Louise Brooks.
The artist looked around online, exploring the idea of beauty. "There were women there that I didn’t even realise had become part of my beauty mix," Backner is quoted as saying. "I really responded to Louise Brooks, who was the original 1920s ‘It girl’ and made it cool to have a boy-like figure and short hair. She changed the way women wanted to look."
In the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Backner reiterated her point, "Of course my paintings are a very personal selection of faces. They're the women who have shaped my western ideal of beauty, and whose images hold in my mind as I look in the mirror every day. Interestingly, some are women unknown to me before I started research for the show - but I realised just how much their image changed how I, and many women today, see themselves. For example, Louise Brooks was the original 1920s 'It Girl'. She made short hair and a boy-like figure desirable after three centuries of corseted curves and waist-length hair. We'd look very different without her!"
In a statement sent to the Louise Brooks Society, the artists noted, "I first came across Louise Brooks in stills from Pandora's Box. I saw them while designing the set for another Wedekind play, Spring Awakening. My impression was of a strikingly beautiful, magnetic women with presence and energy. I reencountered her images while researching the 'How to Be Beautiful' exhibition - and was haunted by her expressions."
This portrait of Louise Brooks, "Louise in Pink" (oil on canvas, 24"x34"), is displayed at the gallery and on Backner's website.
Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/painting-picture-of-beauty-at-leeds-art-exhibition-1-8761140
Bay studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, and Central Saint Martins, London. She works in oil paint on stretched canvas, then creates limited-edition prints in archival ink. Bay’s paintings are informed by fine-art’s ‘old masters’ as well as today’s street artists and fashion photographers. Her work was recently featured by Grazia Magazine.
‘How To Be Beautiful’ is at Cafe 164, The Gallery at 164, until Saturday October 7, 2017.