This painting depicts reclining figures—a frequent subject of the artist—who are, in this case, nude except for their shoes. For the artist, the recurring portrayal of the reclining woman through art history speaks volumes about gender power dynamics. Borah notes: "Considering how long women have been portrayed horizontally by men throughout art history, I think it’s still new and exciting when a person identifying as a female takes ownership in depicting her gender in this manner. Maybe it’s because I’m a new mother, but I’ve been thinking a lot about 'women resting,' and the different pressures capitalism has on making one feel like they’re deserving of rest or not. When painting I’m wondering if it’s possible to genuinely paint a woman resting, and just that. I like to play around with poses that can be read in multiple ways: erotic, awkward or both."
Borah uses oil paint along with the quick-drying medium of distemper to create surfaces that evoke the faded qualities of worn denim—along with the patterns of vintage fabrics and other decorative textiles. The artist’s female-presenting figures are dressed in floral dresses and platform boots, and they inhabit dreamlike landscapes filled with horses, flowers and greenery. Borah explores concepts of self, authenticity and performance in paintings that frequently depict aloof characters with expressionless faces.
Borah draws influence from the artist, poet and muse Marie Laurencin (1883-1956). Laurencin was among the only female artists associated with the Section D’Or and Cubist group, and she was the independent-minded muse of Guillaume Apollinaire for a time. Laurencin’s paintings—with their centering of female figures engaged in activities of leisure, beautification and nature forays—were often dismissed in their time for representing “everything that is wrong with women’s art.” Laurencin's work featured a pastel palette, an unapologetically decorative aesthetic and celebrated simple, pretty things like flower bouquets, flowing scarves, woodland idylls and the freedom of riding on horseback.
However, from a contemporary standpoint—including today’s fresh perspectives on gender fluidity and the wide spectrum of gender expressions—Laurencin’s painted worlds portray a feminine interiority that can be claimed and inhabited by those who find and see themselves in it. This is where Meghan Borah’s femme-centric paintings connect back to and expand upon Laurencin’s female-oriented cosmos. While Borah’s “girls” tend to be feminine-presenting, their angular limbs and features, heavy platform boots and refusal to smile on command—especially while being looked at—resonate with feminism’s insistence that women's bodies belong to themselves and no one else. Borah's work insists that women should revel and take pleasure in themselves, adorn themselves as they wish, and share themselves with others if and as they choose.
Meghan Borah’s work explores the self, authenticity and performance in paintings that depict female-presenting figures inhabiting dreamlike landscapes filled with horses, flowers and greenery. The artist uses oil paint along with the quick-drying medium of distemper to create surfaces that evoke the faded qualities of worn denim, vintage fabrics and other decorative textiles. Wearing a combination of floral dresses and platform boots, Borah’s expressionless subjects remain aloof—refusing to smile on command, while insisting that their bodies belong to themselves and no one else.
Meghan Borah was born in 1990. The artist received an MFA from the Painting and Drawing department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois in 2017, and a dual BA in Studio Art and Theology from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts in 2012.
Solo exhibitions of Borah’s work have taken place at: Goldfinch in Chicago, Illinois (2021, 2019); Galerie Urbane in Dallas, Texas (2021); and Lillstreet Rooftop Gallery in Chicago, Illinois (2017).
Group exhibitions that have shown Borah’s work include: Intersection: Art Meets Fashion at The Avenue at American Dream in East Rutherford, New York (2021); Summer Collective at Galleri Urbane in Dallas, Texas (2020); Sleeper Cell at Apparatus Projects in Chicago, Illinois (2020); The Gift Edit at Galleri Urbane in Dallas, Texas (2020); Culture Place at the Dallas Art Fair in Dallas, Texas (2020); Templates for Public Art Vol. 2 at Free Range Gallery in Chicago, Illinois (2019); Collide at Young Chicago Authors Gallery in Chicago, Illinois (2019); B-Sides at East Room in Chicago, Illinois (2018); Anniversary Show at Over The Rainbow Gallery in Evanston, Illinois (2018); Vignettes at The Saw Room in Evanston, Illinois (2017); Netflix and Chill at D&S Gallery in Chicago, Illinois (2017); and in SAIC’s MFA Thesis Presentation at Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois (2017).
Borah lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
This painting depicts reclining figures—a frequent subject of the artist—who are, in this case, nude except for their shoes. For the artist, the recurring portrayal of the reclining woman through art history speaks volumes about gender power dynamics.More