The introduction to Grace Weaver’s Skinny Latte at Soy Capitán Berlin, promises to immerse you in the land of ‘milk and honey’. It’s an ominous assurance, there are emojis throughout the text and everything looks candy coloured. I'm further worried when I hear Weaver speak freely of working within the ‘cute’ aesthetic.
But Weaver’s paintings command your attention. Her work captivates. It teases you, leaves you a bit stupefied, and then slaps you in the face for making assumptions about it. There’s a lot of movement, lots of suggestiveness and a lot of tongue-in-cheek references to popular culture.
Winning Some / Losing Some
Let’s start with the colours: They’re bright, they clash, they make me long for sunglasses on a grey and rainy Berlin afternoon. But they soon turn mellifluous as I realise they’re the perfect hyper-realised reality for Weaver’s observations on daily life. Speaking of her use of colour with KubaParis, Weaver said: "my happiest achievement is to get two colors side by side—both of which I love individually—but that in combination verge on a kind of grotesque “too-much-ness.”
In these paintings, tragicomedy falls more into the gentle register of #fail than Shakespearean melodrama
It’s through this vehicle of ‘too much’, that Weaver presents a carefully observed thread of contemporary culture. She doesn’t tell you how a moment makes her feel, instead she punctuates her paintings with details that let you discover it for yourself. The themes of the exhibition are linked in a girly aesthetic dominated by smart phones, sunglasses, Tinder, skinny lattes and eyes caked in Maybeline mascara. About the ‘girlyness’, Weaver says: “Our heroine is a kind of amiable fool, a goody-two-shoes with her heart in the right place but her head in the wrong. It’s a tough and nasty world out there for this young-girl. But in these paintings, tragicomedy falls more into the gentle register of #fail than Shakespearean melodrama”.
Her leading ladies can be seen walking through a rain storm in a white dress and getting sunburnt whilst using Tinder on holiday. In Lust for Lite she’s out for a run; oblivious, with her headphones in as she's about to step on a banana skin. A dog poo lurks in the foreground.
Lust for Lite
Weaver plays with the priorities of millennials in the best possible way. Her version of ‘cute’ is multi-layered. In a recent interview she said: “Generationally (speaking as a millennial) the cute is so deeply embedded in our aesthetic DNA. We were raised on Polly Pocket and Disney. I think the idea of cuteness contains an uncomfortable double meaning: it is both light-hearted and dark.”
The history of oil painting is a very male dominated one but Grace Weaver brings it into the 21st century female gaze with Skinny Latte. She’s the heroine we’ve been searching for, with the colour pallette to match.