Editor’s Pick: Brittany Shepherd Sub Rosa

“Shoot,” 2022. Oil on panel. 20 x 24 inches.

Working from images culled from niche online fetish communities, Brittany Shepherd’s painterly lens reframes erotic performances into poetic metaphors. Akin to the motivations that fuel the performances depicted, Shepherd pursues the act of painting as a reflex with love and devotion. Applying the (il)logic of fetishism to depictions of fetish acts, the images sourced and shared digitally are slowed down and rarified through the care and obsession of the painting process. 

Left unresolved as to whether there are multiple subjects that share physical characteristics or the same subject on different days, crimsons and magentas rise to meet the surface of pale flushed flesh, decorated with nails and lips painted in rhetorical shades of synthetic reds. In acts of teasing seduction, slippery veils exhibit bodies while concealing identity. 

She is filthy, dirty, sticky. She is wet and messy. She plays with materials as if an extension of the body – stretching gum and latex, curling toes around a stiletto heel, or showing off clammy thighs through plastic wrapping. Upon close observation, double meanings and nonsensical details begin to strain the viewer’s comfort; a handgun with a ‘cocked’ trigger rests hazardously between a woman’s heels; raw pink cuts are visible on wrists while disturbingly not the focus in the image of acrylic-nailed hands showing off strands of hair that cling to wet fingers. See Brittany Shepherd’s solo exhibition Sub Rosa, at In Lieu. Text excerpt from Marie Heilich’s exhibition text.

“Wrap,” 2022. Oil on panel. 24 x 30 inches.

“Dip” 2022. Oil on panel. 24 x 30 inches.

“Skins,” 2022. Oil on panel. 20 x 24 inches.

Images courtesy In Lieu & Brittany Shepherd