We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Natalya Hughes Woman II

acrylic on poly-cotton

150.5 x 109.5 cm

Time and time again in modernist painting you see women’s bodies used for the purposes of formal experimentation. For me, Willem de Kooning’s Woman series is an exemplar. I understand de Kooning’s contribution to painting – his dynamic figure/ground relationships, his handling of paint, and his ways of seeing. But I am not content to dismiss the unnamed women, who are the ‘vehicle’ for this, as the least important part of his visual language. De Kooning’s women are menacing. Their foreboding, castrating, looming grotesqueness is primary in his painterly experiments. I have been repainting them to understand them and bring them into my own visual language, sympathetic to their status in the history of painting.

Natalya Hughes, 2018