Leopoldplaats 11 (window)
Pandora couldn't contain her curiosity when she was given a pithos (vessel) as a gift from Zeus. By lifting the lid, she released diseases and disasters that quickly spread across the earth. Just in time, Pandora closed the lid, leaving hope, personified by Elpis, as the only one unable to escape. But the evil had already been done, man's carefree existence had come to an end. But one question remains: is hope evil?
Shirley Villavicenzio Pizango (°1988, Lima) reflects about this issue in the triptych Elpis still there, Pandora (2022). That is, hope can refer to an earlier mental state in which no actual action is taken. In addition, the work emphasizes the importance of decision-making rights for women, which is still very much needed.
“Being a woman” encompasses a whole spectrum. Anyone who feels like a woman should be able to express themselves without restrictions or preconceived expectations. The triptych depicts a selection of female manifestations (embodied by self-portraits of the artist), which in turn can be interpreted in a very broad way. For example, the virgin on the left can be a reference to the literal interpretation of the word, but also to the asexual or the innocent. The middle panel shows a sex worker in the foreground with a transwoman in the background. The right panel shows a pregnant woman, the mother figure. The beauty, strength and resilience of women are central in this piece.
In terms of composition, proportions and the way in which the woman is depicted, Villavicencio Pizango is inspired by old masters such as Jan Van Eyck (°ca. 1390-1441) and Sandro Botticelli (°ca. 1445-1510). Both the choice of a triptych and the blue tiles refer to Christianity. Like Van Eyck, the artist integrates symbolic objects that reinforce the central message. For example, the lilies on the left stand for purity, femininity and love. The papaya refers to the female genitals and the quinces to love and fertility. The vase on the right is an unambiguous reference to Pandora's jar, which was often incorrectly translated as a box, on which again a self-portrait of the artist can be seen.