An introduction to the works of Christina de Vos (3)

Dressing up

Christina de Vos hoards images like a squirrel in fear of the whitewashed canvas of winter. She rips up art books and vulgar gossip magazines alike, and even strips the usable bits off abandoned drawings and paintings, storing them in gruesome bins of assorted body parts, ready to be used as building blocks for a compound “supermodel”.

From these heaps of scraps and cuttings rose up a new stage in Christina’s body of work, on which portraits of actors and performers took their place, or rather portrayals of the always somewhat tragic dichotomy between public roles and private lives, between naked selves and spruced-up pretences.


Her suspicion towards all that fancy dressing is palpable, but so is her admiration for these fellow-ish artists – after all, they depict human forms and expressions as well. Christina’s diva portraits do indeed strike a more congratulatory note than usual, introducing fun, exuberance, and the audacity of colour.

A rather more sour, albeit similar note was struck in a series that explored the ambiguity of famous last words: are those the final words of a monarch, a movie star, a big shot, caught until the very end in a bit part, or the very first sincere utterances of a real person? The series Meisjes (Girls) examines precisely the opposite: the similarity of the sweet innocence of youth and the play-acting of fully-fledged fawn-eyed ingenues.

A veritable menagerie of canine and avian devils took to the stage in the series De hondsdagen (The Dog Days), commissioned for the 2001 Hieronymus Bosch Jubilee. Harking back to her bleak academy and Grünewald drawings, Christina expertly mirrors – but very sparsely literally quotes – the cruel world of Bosch, without sacrificing the multitude of delightfully droll details of his paintings.


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