Cokehead by G.R.A.Z.I.E
New Zealand born artist grAzie depicts feminine social constructs through a relatively loose abstract style, utilising the ‘faceless figure’ as a means of creating scenes of relatability and reality. Cokehead’s main point of reference is the iconic shot of Naomi Campbell photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth – who celebrates femininity through an unfiltered lens. grAzie’s interpretation is overall quite flat, however, the harmonisation of primary colours creates a sense of joyfulness and freedom which is further made apparent by bold brush strokes and thick layers of paint. The colour red bounces around the piece, from the red brassiere, red lips and cans of coke rolled in locks of blue hair. Cokehead alongside Von Unwerth’s original play into feminine tropes – viewers can very easily place this character in a scene of a 1970s movie set – though strangely enough the coke cans juxtapose these ideals, in a way criticising the very stereotypes that are so easily put together in our minds.
This artist’s clear source of inspiration comes from creative movements such as Pop Art and Abstract Art, though grAzie remains consistent in her references to popular culture, fashion and contemporary culture. ‘Beautalism’ is a movement recently established by a group of designers and artists which aims to challenge the over conceptualisation of ideas over aesthetics by critics. They speak against the reinforcement of stereotypes and elitist approvals, merging art and fashion together to create something beautiful and easy for all types of viewers to enjoy and understand. grAzie is well-known for partaking in this ‘beautalist’ movement; her work is visually nice to look at and has a relatively easy background to understand.
Returning back to Cokehead, grAzie’s joy in creating art that refers back to beatualism is evident in the sense of hurriedness the brushes leave on the canvas. The choice in colour palette seems to exaggerate the subject, showing deep roots of inspiration from artists like Warhol and Basquiat. Overall, grAzie is an artist who explores a variety of topics ranging from the political to the aesthetic, her work is equally as interesting to look at as the context it covers beneath
Words by Chloe Copley