Aleksandra Liput’s paintings are pervaded by meatheads, pumped muscles, shaved heads, lenny faces, interspersed with poo emojis, smileys, cocks and rather endearing-looking titties. Members of this peculiar ensemble are determined to awkwardly push their way to the front proudly presenting their genitalia, always primed and ready for some action. Grotesque penises seem to be perpetually swaying in some sort of mad, unhinged tango. Those comical and caricatured figures spill over the canvass, tamed by aggressive thick contours and spray lines, adorned with bits of cheap glitter, appearing to proliferate wildly in all directions.
Masculinity in broader Western culture has long been an object of cult and worship, with connotations of strength, security, reassurance, and – last but not least – ideally a decent pile of cash to go with them. Phallic symbols painted in prehistoric caves or erected at crossroads were intended to act as territorial markers, warnings to intruders and repellent of all evils. Arguably, not much has changed since. Suffice to log into Tinder or browse hasthtags of the #polishboy sort.
Among the masses of imagery conveying overblown masculinity, girls are often implicitly expected to remain unreservedly impressed and conditioned to react by being nice, polite, smiling and come across as unconditionally happy for the privilege of basking in masculine glory. Aleksandra Liput vehemently crushes such built-in expectations. In her latest cycle of paintings and latex soft sculptures she assumes the role of a cunning troll, mischievously ridiculing and ironically belittling symbolic attributes of the larger-than-life masculinity. She re-appropriates borderline obscene scribbles borrowed from the back pages of student notebooks, walls of dodgy, run down housing projects or vulgar internet forum comments to throw them in the face of heteronormative hegemony. Her previous cycle of paintings titled ‘Neverland’ tackled childhood fears, scary anthropomorphised toys and recurrent nightmares. In her current work she puts bittersweet icing on the traumas faced by more grown-up girls.