In vibrant large-scale watercolors of women wrestlers, San Francisco-based painter Kelly Inouye explores female rage through the lens of the televised, professional leagues of WWE, Lucha Libre, and GLOW. “Against the Ropes” features figurative works painted with allegorical reference to feminist texts that emphasize empowerment and intersectionality.
Responding to daily news of harassment, abuse, inequality and threats to the civil rights of women coupled with the wellness industry’s constant calls for increased self-care and self-help, Inouye mines an unusual source in pop culture to challenge the age old notion that anger and rage are off limits for women. She notes, “There’s a lot of brilliant feminist writing on the topic of women’s anger, its suppression, and ultimately its power to catalyze change. This work is meant to acknowledge the anger women have every right to feel but we’ve been conditioned to hide, internalize, or resist.”
In women’s wrestling, skilled female athletes dressed in costume as extreme personas stage choreographed physical battles, portraying stereotypes while undermining notions of how “good girls” are supposed to behave. These characters are pushing, shoving, choking and slamming against portrayals of the female body as docile, still, passive and available within mainstream culture, art history, and social media.