Nudes That Look Down at You: No Shame for the Female Body
The female body is a natural thing, so let’s stop pretending it isn't. Embark on Aleena’s journey to normalise every part of the female body through her art.
Submitted by Aleena Sharif, New York
Aleena is a female artist with roots in Pakistan with a focus on oil paintings of the female nude. Her female figures are large-scale bodies taking up the entire canvas in confident poses, looking down on their viewer. Their aim is to create a power dynamic shift that attempts to put into question the shame surrounding the nude female body and push for reclaiming it. Aleena’s paintings also strive to normalise, highlight and even glorify ‘issues’ about the female body that are used to shame women such as body hair, stretch marks, or rolls.
Aleena attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where she graduated with a BFA and a minor in Art History. After graduating, her work has travelled the world and has been showcased in exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, London, Italy, and Pakistan, among many virtual galleries as well. Lately, Aleena has worked on her art bouncing between California and Pakistan where she holds open studies in the hope of creating a safe space for nude paintings to be shown.
In her own words, here is Aleena’s journey as an artist and the desires that drive her to paint.
I grew up in a very creative household; my mother is also a textile artist, so I was exposed to many mediums of art. After high school, I wanted to explore more about technical abilities and fine arts. I studied Fine Arts and Art history in college and loved it. After graduating, I kept it as a hobby, but during quarantine, I started painting again and decided that I wanted to continue in a professional direction. Then, I found my objective was to create and showcase my work. The drive has always been there, but I just needed to streamline how I would go forward with it. The subject of my work, I feel, was lacking in the mainstream art world, so I decided that if I wanted to see something, I needed to be the one to put it out.
The main idea behind my work is confidence. I want to show confident women and promote the idea of living life loudly and unapologetically. Creating works and having them around me reminds me of this. I also want people, especially women, to see the work and breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of feeling seen and give them a silent comfort in these figures. The reason behind painting nude figures has to do with my upbringing. Living in Pakistan, I have always been very aware of my body and how I have to represent myself. By having these paintings, I can take back my body. The female figure is something I feel very strongly about, and I want to normalise the fact that it is actually one of the most natural things, and we should start acting like it.