In your face: ‘Fuck paintings’ by Betty Tompkins (Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels)

There I was, surrounded by large-scale paintings of female genitalia. What was I to think? Are they shocking me? Or is it just a gimmick, wearing out quickly? Let’s put it this way: I like it when art confuses me. American artist Betty Tompkins has been painting these greyish, photorealistic images since 1969, trying to balance two elements: the abstract and the sexual. On a couple of occasions, they have been censored (by French customs in 1973, by Japanese customs in 2006). Centre Pompidou (Paris) has bought one of her early paintings and put it on display during elles @ centrepompidou in 2009. One thing is certain: you have to be in front of these Fuck paintings to really be able to form an opinion about them. They have a slight haze, adding to the abstract element, that pictures don’t capture. So, don’t let them scare you and walk through the doorway of Galerie Rodolphe Janssen (Brussels), before March 17. One detail: you just have to compliment the gallery for making a small catalog available for free containing an interview with Tompkins explaining her art. If only more galleries would do this.


2 Responses to “In your face: ‘Fuck paintings’ by Betty Tompkins (Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels)”

  1. I agree with the fact that the word “confusing” often means “interesting” in the art world (while ‘aesthetic’ and ‘commercial’ may mean bad things!). Anyway, I was also bewildered by the Betty Tompkins exhibition and related my impressions at, if someone would be interested in further reading.

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