Tristan Pigott’s Paintings Capture Social Awkwardness And The Male Gaze

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The painter Tristan Pigott heightens the drama of everyday awkward interactions by imagining the mundane in dreamlike ways; altering proportion and shape to express his subjects’ self-conscious anxiety, he constructs an uncomfortable world dominated by the uncertainty of twenty-something men and women. As they form their adult identities, Pigott’s subjects fret over their appearance and public behavior.

Alcohol, hip clothing, makeup, and grooming products cease to be superficial or incidental and are transformed into poignant markers of inner dialogues. Two female subjects abandon words, opting instead to communicate through their own physical presentation; one applies mascara in her skivvies, while the other furrows her brow at a magazine advertisement. An attractive persona is of the utmost importance; a seductive lip tattoo becomes the subject of another painting, and similarly, a lady is shown carefully eating a hamburger that perfectly coordinates to her outfit, sure not to spill on her blouse.

Further heightening the psychological importance of public surroundings and everyday objects, the artist plays with perception, placing an out-of-context wine glass here, a gravity-defying newspaper there. Similarly, a see-through table alters the hue of the legs below as harsh brushstrokes break the illusion of realism, and a man peers at his watch, his anxiety seemingly circumventing the laws of physics and allowing his body to float above ground.

In this world where identities are malleable and uncertain, the male gaze is uncomfortably prominent. Where a man is shown to watch himself in the mirror, the women are seen with a subtle degree of voyeurism. In mixed company, women peer thoughtfully, even fretfully, at the viewer, where men seem to please only themselves, remaining blissfully unaware of onlookers. When the male subject is nude, his back and face are turned away, but breasts and glances of the unclothed female are directed outwards. Dominated by familiar social anxieties and uncomfortable sexual politics, Pigott’s imaginative public space is perhaps not as surreal as it might seem. (via iGNANT)
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