In her paintings, artist Tiki Garcia depicts women liberated from the male gaze. From a young age, Garcia felt commodified by men and this work allows her to dismantle those feelings. “Growing up in the Bay Area and being a relatively attractive young lady, I was exposed to men feeling maybe a little entitled,” she said. “You know, just like trucks full of men hollering at you when you’re walking down the street. And I’m like 14 years old. I learned the powers of that and also the taxes.”
Garcia said it strikes her, saddens her even, when she comes across “beautiful women who crumbled under that pressure.”
“So that’s a big focus for me.”
Garcia is premiering her debut show “Caution: Wet Paint” at The Rose on Saturday. Seductive, carefree, sensual, multichromatic women grace her canvases. Their bodies are animated by that freedom Garcia discusses. In their eyes, their poses, they tell us that they are untethered to expectations and comfortable in their skin.
Their nudity symbolizes disregard for a society that has long placed them into boxes, carefully curated categories. “I paint them naked because they have nothing to hide and they don’t feel ashamed or aware of the fact that they’re naked. They just simply are. And in that, it’s beautiful.”
In one painting, a woman lays naked with her head tilted in pleasure. She is painted in bright pink and green, a color scheme reminiscent of Andy Warhol paintings. Another painting depicts a nude woman as her tendrils of hair stretch dreamily, expansively across the canvas. The painting drips with the flavor of Alphonse Mucha. The art nouveau artist captured women in elegant, mysterious poses set to kaleidoscopic backdrops.
But times have changed for women since Mucha’s and Warhol’s days. Today, a show—by a woman—presenting women who exist in their own world, who have actively shunned male attention, begs the question: Is this work a response to today’s cultural moment? The #MeToo movement comes to mind, in which women are rising up and speaking out against men who have abused their power. It is also a time when women continue to fight for control of their reproductive rights.
When asked this, Garcia first replied with an enthusiastic “absolutely.”
But then she paused to reconsider that notion. “Well, maybe not,” she said. “I think there are tons of men who also suffer from abuse and and even the pressure of the patriarchy itself. It’s like they’re trapped within their own prefixed personality that the culture gives them.”
Ultimately, Garcia said she wants all people to walk away from her show feeling empowered.
Listen above for the full conversation.
Tiki Garcia premieres “Caution: Wet Paint,” 8 p.m. Saturday, November 9 at The Rose.