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Persona 

When: Aug. 7-30, 5:30 p.m. 2014
Anna Halldin Maule’s haute couture images would be remarkable if they were photographs. The fact that they are oil paintings puts them over the top. A behind-the-scenes video that captures the making of Halldin Maule’s work is set to Lily Allen’s sardonic “The Fear” — “I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds / I heard people die while they are trying to find them,” Allen croons — and the artist statement for tonight’s show claims, “The paintings are specifically about women and their conflicted relationship with appearance” and “our helpless shared obsession with artifice.” Halldin Maule employs an extended “bird in a gilded cage” metaphor, with her subjects’ jaws secured by ribbons while facial masks set. What is missing is the threat of consequences. In the titular Persona, the face of the bare-breasted model is smothered by a fashion house scarf, her meticulously braided hair coiled around her neck like baby Alien’s tail. Sex and death have long been a staple of fashion adverts, and her warning is tame in even this most provocative piece. The great irony of Halldin Maule’s work is that the critique of beauty standards is so subtle that these images could grace the pages of the slickest fashion mags. Aesthetically they are masterpieces. Attempting to imbue them with meaning they lack only serves to distract from the artist’s talent.
— Michael Singman-Aste

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