For her latest body of work, Rebecca Moses switched from “realistic portraiture to an imaginative journey.”
The artist, author and designer is describing “Bubblegum, Lipstick and Hope,” her exhibit of 200 paintings of women to be unveiled Dec. 2 at the Miami gallery of Ralph Pucci International, 343 NW 25th Street, for Art Basel. It’s Moses’ third solo exhibit and, as she said, is a tribute to women, their strength, uniqueness, resilience and “big style.”
“During the pandemic, art has been my salvation. I started painting like crazy,” said Moses, who works out of her apartment/studio on 58th Street in Manhattan.
“’Bubblegum, Lipstick and Hope’ is cheerful, exciting and colorful. It shouts that we have survived and will thrive — we are moving forward with optimism,” said Ralph Pucci, who represents Moses in the U.S.
Early on during the health crisis, Moses formed a “sisterhood” on Instagram and heard from women who had health issues, were raising special needs children, who had to reinvent after losing their jobs, or faced other challenges, and she created 400 portraits of them, including 46 that were donated to Mount Sinai Hospital in the Guggenheim Pavilion.
For the upcoming exhibit at Pucci, these women were again the inspiration. “I started painting them in Technicolor, with big style, all dolled up, celebrating themselves, with jewels that electrify their personae, hairdos that become crowns, body language that shows strength, determination and dignity, and expressing that deep voice inside of the power of survival and arrival. There is no standard of beauty. Each remarkable woman is her own champion. I’m showing them in the most glamorous and glorious sense. They’re queens.”
Asked why “Bubblegum, Lipstick and Hope” was chosen for the theme of the exhibit, Moses explained: “Bubblegum represents the child in us, the optimism, being carefree. It’s one of life’s comforts. In a lot of these paintings, there’s comfort food — pizza, corn on the cob. I love the idea of a woman in haute couture clothing eating popcorn. The juxtaposition is wonderful. It shows humor, carefreeness.
“Lipstick is her armor,” continued Moses. “It gives you a sense of participation in life, a sense of confidence and empowerment. You can’t walk around in your pajamas all day and not comb your hair. You have to go out and live the day. Lipstick is symbolic of ‘I can do this.'”
Moses also made hope part of the message because “we have to aspire. During the pandemic, many people had to recreate their lives. Many women were forced to create new businesses. They had to create new things to do, to bring them money.”
The exhibit includes seven large canvases and more than 100 smaller unframed portraits. Moses worked in acrylic, pen, inks, markers and “all kinds of techno paints.…I like to experiment in different mediums,” she said. “Some of the paintings have 3-D raised effects.”
Moses also created ten 17-foot high murals that are already visible on the facade of the Pucci gallery. They will be up for a year.
“As dark as COVID-19 is, there is a lot of silver linings. I have never been so creative and productive,” said Moses.