The Barbie aisle of childhood memory is a visual candy shop.
Rows upon rows of hot pink packages that – through a rather elaborate system of twist-tie shackles – detain these taffy, tiny-ankle “women.” Each doll, with her own hairstyle and bubble-gummy name, contributes to this endless supply of undamaged, sold-separately female ideals.
The dolls themselves cannot even sustain this: their artificially sweet existence is quickly marked by teething dog indents, lost shoes, and at-home haircuts. These flaw-doling factors have real-life counterparts; they are the memories, losses, and hardships, that human beings face.
“Nobody ever said life was going to be easy, just beautiful,” says the artist behind our Piece of the Week, Branka Grubic.
Grubic’s portfolio is more dazzling to behold than the Barbie aisle. When looking through the acrylic headshots that comprise her portfolio, it is clear that these women are not just the mesmerizing canvas sweethearts that – throughout art history and pop culture – have turned the female into somewhat of a chimerical myth.
Her images of inspirational yet relatable women have a candid beauty that is rooted in their differences and nuanced by their flaws.
Our Piece of the Week, Don’t Fade Away, (39”x39”), an acrylic painting, portrays a frontal image of a woman who, as Grubic explains, is looking out at a setting sun and making the choice to not stay in the dark, or, as the title suggests, to not fade away.
“Women often forget just to be happy. Focusing on bad choices they made in life, getting settled in bad relationships, with the wrong person for the wrong reasons, making everybody happy but themselves. [That woman] is simply fading away,” says the artist.
The setting sun is meant to be both literal and figurative. It symbolizes acceptance of passing time and the past. Despite her deep and active psychological history – which Grubic calls “memories of love, pain and rocky roads” – she resiliently confronts the world with her head-on gaze.
“Don’t Fade Away is a painting about personal existing,” she says.
The visible brushstrokes and imposed color lines contribute to her overall project. They texturally enact the human condition of an ever-accumulating personal history.
Her artistic process echoes this focus on this beautiful evolution of being.
She says, “I constantly challenge myself in my painting, spending the majority of my days continually teaching myself how to paint.”