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Phenomenal

This first piece, ‘Phenomenal’, features the ‘Portrait of Madeline’ by Marie-Guillemine Benoist. A painting originally criticised in 1800 at its first presentation in the Louvre for featuring an African woman within a Neoclassical aesthetic, Chechet’s version subverts Benoit’s narrative to present a woman who is powerful & has control – not posed half-naked for the mere satisfaction of the (most likely male) viewer. In this version, Madeline is draped in finely patterned fabric atop a stallion, the swirls of blue and green that surround her feel almost mythical and lead the viewer’s eye directly to the original portrait.

Words by Chloe Copley

Phenomenal

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