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26/01/2018 15:11 SAST | Updated 26/01/2018 15:11 SAST

Huge Sequin Portraits Paint SA Women In Different Light

Iconic images get flipped on their heads with a new medium and message.

Frances Goodman

In the heart of Johannesburg's northern suburbs artist Frances Goodman is working with teams of local beaders, photographers and assistants to create a whole new kind of painting -- constructed from hundreds of thousands of hand-beaded sequins -- that tell a different story about the women of her hometown.

The glimmering portraits, which at times measure more than two metres across and take months to prepare, feature "ordinary" South African women, the artist explains to HuffPost, striking poses that capture clichéd representations of iconic women in cinema over the years.

Frances Goodman

"The way that we are portrayed as women elevates us," she says from the studio, "which is what I am interested in looking at. Everything is so complicated and mixed up these days, that it's hard to work out what is real."

For this project, the artist went through cinematic footage looking for emotions such as grief, anger and rage that capture the stereotypical ways that women are portrayed in media. She then asked local women to act out these emotions, "but I find it interesting that when these women take on these poses, they become iconic... something else".

"The sequins create a mirage. From one angle they create something, and when you circle around the image collapses and becomes a mirrored surface, then the portrait also becomes something else – how women struggle to hang on to a sense of who they are today," Goodman says.

Frances Goodman

Her work often explores the implications of certain materials, and how they are linked to female identity. In the past she has sculpted with false fingernails, embroidered offensive ("unladylike") slogans, created tents from discarded wedding dresses, and used lipstick in graffiti. But these paintings do something else, she says.

"The sequins are different. They separate reality from the fiction of how women are represented today. When you look at them and see this iconic image, then realise it is the everyday, as opposed to the action of a celebrity woman, well, men in particular just see the pictures in a whole new way."

Frances Goodman

In 2016 pop superstar Miley Cyrus posted a picture of Frances' work while it was on exhibition at the Richard Tattinger Gallery in New York City, which caused the work -- a sculpture of a tongue crafted from false fingernails -0- to explode on social media.

"What I loved about that was the piece she liked was a giant tongue, which in some way was influenced by her famous photoshoot sticking her tongue out to the side. I'm interested in the boundaries between the desirable and grotesque, and in her own pop kind of way she did that herself. It was a full circle... my tongue and her pointing hers."

Congrats Frances, we agree with Miley Cyrus, you rock!

A post shared by Richard Frerejean taittinger (@richard_taittinger) on

The sequin paintings are being exhibited at galleries around the world, and will appear in a major upcoming exhibition of the artist's work coming up at SMAC Gallery in September. Follow @fjgoodman on Instagram for updates.