“I make art that is pissed off with the male gaze,” says our featured artist this month, Judi Thomas.
“My Other Whole” – Judi Thomas
And indeed, Judi’s work is full of related themes: of divorce, of love, of sex and of bondage.
Judi’s work has echoes of Jean Miro, Aubrey Beardsley and Frida Kahlo. She’s controversial, personal – and certainly not afraid to speak out, bringing a uniquely feminist voice to our platform.
“In my women you can often see an awareness that they are being looked at,” says Judi, and, in equal measure, that they genuinely don’t care about your opinion.”
Sometimes this is a determination to resist shaming the female body, as in “A Fertile Imagination” , which is a reaction to the barbs of her soon-to-be ex husband.
At other time it’s represented with a sense of freedom, such as “My Other Whole”, a touching depiction of both the menacing end of their marriage – and of the joy of finding a new kind of love with someone else.
Many people know Judi for her seriously sexy stuff. Indeed, she’s often compared to the controversial erotic illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. (see left) But while they might share a similar style, Judi’s erotic work also contains welcome elements of politics and power.
In “Perspective” the idea of bondage as a form of liberation appears. The woman is tied up, sure. But is the freedom to let go of control actually a subtle form of control? Or, as Judi puts it: is it “the power of a disciple, who holds her god by the balls with her worship.”
One of our favoiurite quotes from Judi is “I draw the women I should have known when I was twelve.” ‘Pulling Rank,’ and ‘Elizabeth‘ depict brazen, powerful women who stare out at us unapologetically. But with the likes of ‘Daydream‘ we see a softer tone, a reflection upon the otherwordly wistfulness that can afflict teenage girls, or the Tank Girl look of “I’ve Seen The Future, Baby” a gothic nightmare which is full of the recriminations after the defeat of UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“I’ve Seen The Future, Baby” – Judi Thomas
Then we get more crazy abstracts – there’s the two pieces of ‘Humans – an Exploding Diagram‘ – ( 1 ) and ( 2 ) that bear striking stylistic similarity to the Catalan artist Jean Miro. Because they are so richly detailed, it’s quite often difficult to see the beauty of these peices via a digital format. But just look at the fine detail of the mystical-seeming animals.
These recurring floral and animals motifs are a testament to the riot of colour of Judi’s native South Africa, just as Mexico provided for Frida Kahlo. “Deep Dream”, for example is full of mystical animals that appeared when she first allowed her creativity to let go. And “Folksoul” is a comment on the commodification of ethnic diversity that such a wealth of colour and richness provides.
With Judi Thomas we get up close and personal with some heavyweight themes, as well as great technical skill and resonant details. All pieces here are original pen and inks, there’s been no copies of prints produced.
Below: “Folksoul” and details…