November 26, 2022

Skarstedt is delighted to announce our upcoming exhibition, Cristina BanBan: Mujeres. Featuring a suite of new work, the exhibition marks BanBan’s first show with the gallery since the announcement of her representation with Skarstedt in April 2022.

Each of the paintings on view are titled either Mujer or Mujeres, Spanish for woman or women. This word gets to the heart of BanBan’s practice, which remains consistent in its subject matter even as she continues to mature and evolve as a painter. Women—their bodies and contradictory emotions—are BanBan’s core subject. Through their forms, she is able to filter her daily experiences and vast array of influences onto the canvas. The result is a series of works that are at once personal and universal.

The various women in BanBan’s universe do not meet the viewer’s gaze, nor do they necessarily engage with those around them. While this may speak to the pervasive feeling of isolation in our contemporary society, it also underscores the authority and confidence of these characters. BanBan’s women transcend voyeurism as they stand or lounge resolute in their power, belying centuries of preconceived ideas about nude women in painting. Their nakedness feels intentional, natural, modern—they are sexy but not sexualized, and they exist on their own terms. The large scale of both the canvases themselves and the women that inhabit their fields of color are intentional, allowing the figures to envelop the viewer while commanding attention, respect, and admiration. Likewise, the large hands and eyes so characteristic of BanBan’s oeuvre evince a stately yet intimate presence. Stylistically, these women have transitioned into classical, almost sculptural forms configured in Renaissance-esque arrangements, revealing BanBan’s deep affinity for art history.

As BanBan’s practice continues to evolve, line and color have taken on new roles. Charcoal and oil stick have been introduced into her compositions, a byproduct of her recent transition to oil paint. The presence of these materials lends a graphic quality to the paintings, giving viewers a glimpse into her process and adding a sense of immediacy. At the same time, her palette has turned towards large, gestural strokes of earthy tones—sky blues and rich browns, mossy greens and burnt reds. While these hues ground the figures in an impression of reality, they are structured in such a way that these women appear to hover in a moment devoid of discernable time and place. As such, the narratives of these paintings become increasingly open. These maturations in her practice evoke the work of Willem de Kooning, whose delicate balance of abstraction and figuration, coupled with a revolutionary depiction of the female form, has propelled BanBan towards a newfound liberation of subject matter, transcending narrative structure through a focus on the pure painterly qualities of line, color, and form. It is this quest to uncover how to be simultaneously abstract and referential that defines this new chapter of BanBan’s oeuvre.

Throughout the works on view in Mujeres, BanBan incorporates her own visage into her paintings alongside that of her friends and other people from her daily life as a means of reflecting on her own personal experiences. In this way, her paintings function as something of a diary, and the present exhibition as a glimpse into BanBan’s inner world. 

Stay tuned for a feature on BanBan’s new work in our Winter 2023 Quarterly, out late November 2022.