Mexico City

Tom Allen, Mirrors (South of Heaven), 2019, oil on canvas, 23 × 27".

Tom Allen, Mirrors (South of Heaven), 2019, oil on canvas, 23 × 27".

Tom Allen


There’s something about artifice that gets people so up the ass of their own virtue that even nature can be accused of looking fake—especially when it’s convenient for the hegemony. So it’s no surprise, then, that flowers, nature’s most tarted-up characters, are almost pathologically feminized. Baudelaire articulated the shitty double bind between flowers and women quite poetically in the section of his seminal 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life” titled “In Praise of Cosmetics”: “Woman is quite within her rights, indeed she is even accomplishing a kind of duty, when she devotes herself to appearing magical and supernatural.” He thought of makeup as “a sublime deformation of Nature,” at once defending and reinforcing a very particular and very Western prejudice that David Batchelor would (much) later characterize as chromophobia: the othering of color through exoticization and feminization.

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