Last week, I went to visit Swedish artist Robina Doxi at her gallery located on the fashionable Columbia Road in the East End. She is currently sharing the space with her partner Ola Leander, a Swedish furniture designer.
Robina told me about her WOMANmade project, a series of 20 portraits of women artists. The idea for this project came after she realised that many female artists were underrepresented in museums and that some of them had to struggle to be recognised for their contributions to society and to the Arts.
Having developed a strong interest in gender theory and feminism, Robina started to dig into the matter, reading many biographies and selecting 20 female artists from all over the world and from different periods of time, ranging from the turn of the 19th century to the present day. She tried to reflect the major characteristics of each woman’s life and personality into her portraits through her choice of colour, style, and details.
Robina is passionate about this project, and loves to talk about these women’s lives: their struggle as well as the inspiration that they offer as role models. She is doing it in a very entertaining way, probably due to her interest in theatre (she also has a degree in Theatre Arts).
Here is a selection of four paintings in the series.
Colombian painter Debora Arango (1907-2005)
This artist challenged the Colombian government through her portraits of prostitutes and women in prison. In her portrait, Robina wanted to highlight her courage and determination by creating a style close to that of the posters of political icons.
Ana Mendieta (1948-1985)
The second work selected from the series is a portrait of Ana Mendieta, a Cuban American performance artist known for her “earth-body” art work. She fought against violence towards women throughout her adult life and expressed her feeling through performances and installations using gunpowder and soil. Robina depicts a strong Mendieta who looks heavily at the viewer but with a certain sadness. To express that, she uses an earth colour palette.
Tina Modotti (1896-1942)
Modotti was an Italian photographer. Despite her career as an artist and political activist, she is better known for her brief period as a model for other artists.
Camille Claudel (1864-1943)
French sculptor Camille Claudel met a great deal of resistance from her family when she decided to pursue an artistic career. To this day she is more famous for her relationship with fellow sculptor Rodin, than for her great artistic ambition and talent. In her large-scale portrait of Claudel, Robina seeks to make her challenge the viewer.
From My City will organise a visit of Robina’s WOMANproject on 17 October. Register online here.