Why paintings celebrating the beauty of dark-skinned women made a lot of noise
Why paintings celebrating the beauty of dark-skinned women made a lot of noise

The works of Harmony Rosales literally “blew up” social networks with their eccentricity, audacity and outright provocation. Her work in a matter of minutes turned the world upside down, causing the scales of emotions, indignation and criticism. After all, not every day you can see pictures that challenge not only a certain group of people. and to all mankind: the dark-skinned Virgin Mary, Eve, the Queen of Sheba, as well as the image of God in the guise of a dark-skinned woman - only a small part of what made a lot of noise …

Harmony grew up in an environment ripe for artistic expression, with a mother who worked in the visual arts and a father who loved music. This allowed her to learn and shape herself into the artist she became. Harmony strives to create works that will bring more self-love. She took to the art scene seeking to bring cultural and social awareness to one of the most underrepresented figures in history, the black woman.

Crucifixion, Harmony Rosales, 2020. \ Photo: twitter.com

Harmony sought to overcome the cultural barrier by using white Western Renaissance art as the basis for their work. Renaissance art is known throughout the world as the movement and time of virtuoso artists such as Donatello, Titian and Botticelli, who strove to create art that would be immortalized and considered the pinnacle of their respective mediums. Inspired by the work of such great painters, she shaped her work so that the viewer had something to catch his eye on, and then stop and carefully look at the image, where the main figures are girls who are so similar to the heroines of the Renaissance.

Often, her work is considered controversial, because she does not feel any remorse with such subjects of painting as the Black Virgin Mary, but this is not even the height of controversy for those who criticize her work. According to many critics, Harmony has tarnished the figures that represent the power of white men, and uses their image to empower its own people, hiding behind Western masterpieces, taken as a basis.

I Exist, Harmony Rosales, 2017. \ Photo: thelibralounge.net

Many are now probably wondering, what separates black feminism from the feminism of the 1960s and 70s? It's actually very simple, but it's worth remembering that this movement was originally created by white women for white women, it was not an inclusive movement. However, there are some records of black feminism that can be traced back to the 1830s, starting with The Woman Wanderer of Truth. She was an activist and considered the foremother of black feminism.

Black feminism is an intellectual, artistic, philosophical and activist practice based on the experiences of black women. But, unfortunately, this movement still causes a lot of controversy and discontent from the public.

Our Lady, Harmony Rosales, 2019. \ Photo: mocada.org

Black feminism is just as important as white women's feminism because there is an inequality between the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, where black women still struggle to assert their rights and prove that they are worthy of respect, understanding and equality.During the civil rights movement, black men held sway over black women despite the fact that these women were their confidants and their wives. From mothers to sisters, supporters and mistresses, they all stood behind their men at that tipping point in the hope that empowering them would help them further empower themselves in a world of not only racism, but also misogyny that persists in their communities.

Oshosi receives her crown, Harmony Rosales, 2019. \ Photo: pinterest.com

Then a feminist movement emerged, allied only with those who had the privilege of being in power. Black women were not considered worthy to pursue their rights like their white counterparts, but again, they did not need a movement led by white women to know their worth in asserting their rights. Harmony's painting "Lioness", based on a German porcelain plaque entitled "Woman with a Lion", was the first work of her collection B. I. T. C. H.

Lioness Harmony, Rosales, 2017. \ Photo: yandex.ua

She wanted this work to serve as an example of a black woman with independence and strength. Harmony wants dark-skinned women to own this power and understand that it is an integral part of who they are, and not be ashamed of their strength and resilience. And she shows all this through her Black Renaissance art.

Extraordinary and multifaceted creativity of Harmony Rosales. \ Photo: pinterest.fr

As mentioned earlier, Harmony has a special relationship to its creativity and femininity. As an Afro-Cuban, she considered it her duty to portray women as saints, like the Virgin Mary, Eve and other religious figures. The depiction of the Queen of Sheba next to King Solomon in the painting is an excellent example of depicting black women as equal to black men in strength and understanding. The myth said that the queen visited Solomon for his wisdom and to check if the rumors about his growth were true, and when she saw and heard him, she was smitten by him.

Oya's Betrayal, Harmony Rosales, 2020. \ Photo: google.com.ua

In her works, Harmony returns the power of dark-skinned femininity and purifies the age-old images that were imposed on all women, creating her scandalous art of the Renaissance, endowing her heroines with beauty, strength, intelligence and spirituality.

Harmony used the traditional iconography of the Madonna in one of her works to once again exalt the role of black women, as well as to change the role of women in this over-widespread religious image. She is no longer just the mother of Christ. Madonna cultivates the life of young people, protecting them and filling them with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the world around them. She feeds them not only with her milk, but also with her mind and unconditional love. She turns women into a beacon of knowledge and protection - two concepts that women have never been allowed to associate with.

Civilized America, Harmony Rosales, 2017. \ Photo: instagram.com/honeiee

That is why her dark-skinned Virgin Mary was not the most controversial work in the repertoire. After all, her image of God in the form of a black woman caused a flurry of emotions and indignation among the protesting crowd, including critics. In her series of works titled B. I. T. C. H., Harmony sought to remake these works with their outdated images and ideologies. She wanted to open up the field for new discussion through old ideals and beliefs, with black Renaissance art and black women finally taking center stage after so many years.

Harmony Rosales. \ Photo: instagram.com/honeiee

For tens of thousands of years, man has striven to establish the ideal beauty. From the Kalos people of Ancient Greece to the Yaksha sculptured at the Great Stupa in Sanchi, man has always strived for the ideal. Leonardo da Vinci also sought to help portray the ideal proportions of a person through the works of Vitruvius Pollio.

Fragment: Oshun and her peacock. \ Photo: instagram.com/honeiee

Harmony, replacing the image of a white man with a dark-skinned woman, raises her beauty to a form higher than art. She elevates the body of a dark-skinned woman to the image of God for man, as the Vitruvian Man is also known as the canon of proportions. Thus, the artist shows her version of the famous work through her challenging Renaissance art dedicated to all black women.

And in continuation of the topic, read also about how photographer Bisola Mofeoluva captured and showed the world the unearthly beauty of African women and men.

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