In “Honey Boo Boo’’s Amurrican Starquest” and “Beautimous,” the painter Ingrid V. Wells creates saturated candy-colored portraits of the young stars of TLC’s reality television series Toddlers And Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The hit show follows the world of child beauty pageants, filming in homes and hotel ballrooms across the country; Wells’s paintings remove these made-up living dolls from this context, hurling them into an unsettling space where dreams and nightmares collide.
In many ways, the work is fantastical and wondrous; painted in watercolors and “girly-girl” tones, the figures are as fanciful as pages of a picture book. In the world of pageantry, the toddlers are shown as princesses, gifted with an endless supply of jewels, unicorns, sunny days, and balloon animal pinkness. The sit enthroned and proud, hoisted to the highest heights by fame and fortune.
Upon closer inspection, though, the pageant girls are seen through a lens of despair and disgust. Their saccharine smiles melt under the sweaty pressure of thick paint, mascara and lipstick desperately oozing from their pores. Wells transforms the medium of watercolor, using the normally delicate, ethereal paint in heavy, unappealing globs. The unicorn is revealed to be a pig, an animal symbolic of excess; her gleaming, swollen utters hang, and she, like the girls who awkwardly bear their midsections, is suddenly cast in a profoundly uncomfortable sexual light.
Here, prettinesss becomes both revolting and dangerous; beneath their bedazzled cupcake dresses, the girls are defeated, their eyes cast down in sorrow, still tragically yearning for a judge’s approval. (via BUST and Huff Post)