Study for Refined Face, Cowgirl III, 2018.
”This ongoing series of faces continues my exploration of idealised, homogenised beauty. The kind of beauty that used to be an openly constructed, aspirational fantasy. But is now endlessly emulated by women on social media, often as a way of inserting themselves into advertising. It is a cartoon beauty – to which we are becoming increasingly accustomed thanks to airbrushing, filters and selfies taken at angles that 'improve' the curves and symmetry of bodies and faces.
The aesthetic spills into everyday life. These days, foundations are marketed using the terminology of airbrushing and Photoshop, promising to 'blur' the appearance of pores, blemishes and fine lines to create 'flaw-less, photo-perfect' skin. Even the bone structure of our faces can be temporarily altered using contouring make-up (once used only in film and professional photoshoots, in part to counter bright lighting which flattened facial features).
My Refined Face paintings seem beautiful because the colours, lines, symmetry and seamless application of paint are harmonious. Yet each is an illusion. To paraphrase René Magritte, they are treacherous images: this is not a woman, it is a representation of a woman. The facial features are an impossible ideal. However we have become so well trained by advertising and pop culture that instead of recognising and taking pleasure in (or intellectually considering) these representations, we women often compare ourselves – or others compare us – to them. And then we attempt to re-create ourselves to match.
In line with the seduction and desirability of consumerism I wanted every custom-mixed hue in this series to look like it tastes delicious. So far, the colours are: strawberry milkshake, powdered icing sugar, milk, crème caramel, mango, sage, matcha, latte, espresso, burnt toffee, honey, lavender flower, cinnamon, hazelnut, Dutched cocoa powder, cacao nib, molassas, chilli and pomegranate.”
Hazel Dooney, 2017
Study for Refined Face, Cowgirl II, 2017.
Study for Refined Face, Cowgirl IV, 2018.
Study for Refined Face, Cowgirl I, 2017.
Study for Refined Face, Career Babe Series, 2017.
Notes on developing the series, from the artist’s journal.