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Pygmalion Series
Women & Floral

This painting series is inspired by classical art and literature. It combines pencil and charcoal drawing with acrylic florals inspired by Dutch flower paintings. Entitled “Pygmalion” the painting evolved from the narrative of George Bernard Shaw’s play which was written to support the suffragette movement in the early 20th-Century, and to subtly influence the audience. Shaw’s idea is based on the ancient poem by Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X, where the artist, Pygmalion, creates out of ivory what he considers the most beautiful and perfect woman. The composition takes the theme and character into a mix of a classical and contemporary painting which conveys the woman who has discovered she can be herself in spite of having learned how to be something of a “perfect” person. My hope is that the elements in these works are perceived as bold yet elegant and poignant. Here she takes pause surrounded by a contemporary rendition of classical floral paintings. It is “old meets new,” nostalgic yet current.


Many thanks go to the Shaw Festival Theatre for the loan of the costumes in this painting which were used in a photoshoot in my studio during the pandemic summer of 2021.


Also, credit goes to Rijksmuseum for several images and rights to the use of elements of Dutch Flower paintings as reference. This work was also inspired by figure paintings by John Everett Millais, the ever so delicate da Vinci drawings such as La Scapigliata, Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Woman and The Birth of Venus, and the drawings and figure paintings of Albrecht Durer. The work shows the figure in a surreal yet meaningful environment, visually aesthetic with the portraiture partially obscured at the focal point. “Like the narrative in these works, I want the viewer to feel the emotion and connection of the quiet moment in this gesture, and in tandem, take pause.” – Sandra Iafrate

Below: Pygmalion 1,2,3,4 and 5, 24”x24”x2.75” pencil, charcoal and acrylic on canvas by Sandra Iafrate

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