Xiomara de Oliver
Donkey Chops, 2002

Photo: Michael Strasser, 2003 | © Bildrecht, Vienna, (current year)

Oil stick, acrylic, and gouache on canvas
102 x 198.5 x 4 cm

The enigmatic paintings by the Canadian artist Xiomara De Oliver depict a feminine universe of archaic and fable-like vividness. In Scarlets in Ghent, two nude Black women with accentuated curves are picking strawberries while two smaller figures, possibly children, sit and gather fruit. In the background of the tilted landscape, miniature people and horses frolic among the scarlet berries. The scattered composition, ethereal atmosphere, and the fuzzy blocks of pastel color imbue the scene with a sense of pastoral naïveté and celebration of belonging and communal work. Phrases such as “driver food by the barrel” and “I give freely” emerge from this landscape, gesturing at the free-spirited generosity that is misinterpreted at times as immorality—one of the biblical attributes of the color red.

In Donkey Chops, De Oliver composes an ornamental collage of fair-skinned nude women against a scarlet-red background. Their voluptuous and seductive bodies resemble sex dolls with large open mouths occupying slightly contorted pin-up positions. Small groups of two to six interlocked figures seem to multiply indefinitely around a dark donkey pictured from the side. The composition is as light as it is slightly disturbing, oscillating between a critique of women seen as sexual objects and the celebration of women embracing and trusting their sexuality. De Oliver draws on cunning methods of pictorial representation to examine how cultural stereotypes around eroticism, fantasies, and narratives problematize the condition of women and their sexuality in today's society.


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024

Born in Grand Forks, Canada, in 1967. Lives and works in Marina del Rey, California, USA.