Google Images represents a profound and unprecedented democratization of beauty – anyone anywhere can type in a word and instantaneously summon a genuinely beautiful image. The prevailing opinion seems to be that these images are somehow devalued by their ubiquity and accessibility, but I’ve always disagreed with that assessment.
With this set of paintings, I set out to recontextualize these omnipresent images – to allow the viewer to see them as more than just a reference, a sort of visualization or translation of a word, and to reencounter them as the irreducible aesthetic experiences they really are. The tools of hagiography, gold leaf and oil paint, were the ideal mechanism for that transformation.
My Golden Cows series proposes, perhaps blasphemously, that artificial scarcity has no bearing on the fundamental aesthetic value of an image, despite its longstanding impact on what the market chooses to idolize.
Reality TV Transfigured in Oil on Canvas
One night while I was watching Vanderpump Rules, I paused the show to get up and do something in the next room, and when I returned to the TV, I was stopped in my tracks by the unmistakable artistry in the framing of the scene I had happened to leave onscreen. I didn’t immediately know what to make of it, but as that indelible season of revelry and heartbreak wore on, I kept having the same thing happen again and again. I soon realized that any given episode of the show concealed dozens of gorgeous images – exquisitely disguised within their lowbrow context – so I started painting those images on the biggest canvases I could fit in my studio.
I only became more and more fascinated by the screenshots I collected to use as references the more I worked with them. Not only were the cinematic shots of a West Hollywood drenched in neon light visually stunning, the emotions on the faces of the women and men on the show were strikingly poignant and evocative in freeze frame. The power of these paintings hinges on their ability not only to celebrate the hidden beauty of the show, but also to capture the fundamental appeal of reality TV itself: even when the on-air drama is at its most contrived, the potential for real human emotion to pierce the artifice is always there.
Vanderpump Revealed exposes those fleeting moments of emotional resonance and beauty – moments which are so easily overlooked or written off in a mass market reality show, but which the alchemy of oil paint on a five foot wide canvas render undeniable.
USA , 1989
After graduating from Scripps College in Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art in 2012, Vivian Haesloop explored and painted throughout the United States. After years of being on the road, she settled in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, where she, her partner and dogs stay away from the city
Exhibitions and Fairs