Critics’ Picks

Cristina BanBan, Sunset con las chicas (Sunset with the Girls), 2018, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 59 x 80".

Cristina BanBan, Sunset con las chicas (Sunset with the Girls), 2018, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 59 x 80".

New York


The Hole
312 Bowery
June 28–August 12, 2018

There are no white walls in “Extra,” the Hole’s current group exhibition. The show’s nineteen works are hung on vast expanses of lavender with black polka dots—a lucid indication of what is already bursting at its thematic seams. “Extra” is an audacious, no-holds-barred celebration of womanhood in its many forms. A lusciously full depiction of femininity, the vibrant, tongue-in-cheek collection of paintings subversively renders signifiers of beauty—that is, whiteness, thinness, submissiveness—as entirely irrelevant. These women, in all their sexy, self-possessed, and full-figured gloriousness, want you to know that they are here for themselves, and themselves only.

Upon entering, one is greeted by a glamorous editorial of four swimsuit-clad beachgoers pouting for an imaginary camera in Cristina BanBan’s Sunset con las chicas (Sunset with the Girls), 2018. The work’s voluptuous central figure dangles a pair of cat-eye sunglasses between two fingers as she lounges on a beach towel, maintaining unwavering eye contact with the viewer. Her expression communicates a wry sense of knowing—one in which she is comfortable being looked upon but which simultaneously challenges viewers’ comfort in their own subjectivity as beholders. Echoed by the immediately recognizable style of Fernando Botero’s velvety rotund figures (seen here giving major side-eye in Society Woman, 2003), the incandescent, thick-limbed, and bubblegum-pink nude of George Rouy’s SING?!, 2018, offers the image of an otherworldly siren, instantly arresting in her atypical (yet equally beguiling) beauty. She is captured in a moment of uninhibited repose, head tilted in mid-croon and indifferent to the audience or any kind of body anxiety.

The exhibition’s playfulness could be mistaken for frivolousness—but the show’s joyous heart is where its power lies. “Extra” provides ample space for its wild women to frolic, lounge, slump, and gyrate as they please.