Tate Etc

Rose Wylie's Arab and Dancing Girl, 2006 Tate Etc. at Tate Britain / Artists' Perspectives

In celebration of the reopening of Tate Britain, Tate Etc. invited a selection of artists from around the world to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist currently on display. Here, Haroon Mirza discusses Rose Wylie's Arab and Dancing Girl 2006

Rose Wylie - Arab and Dancing Girl, 2006

Rose Wylie
Arab and Dancing Girl 2006
Oil on canvas
231 x 435 cm 
© Rose Wylie, courtesy the artist

I really enjoy the wit and direct nature of Wylie’s work. She seems to see culture as a global phenomenon as opposed to a localised one, where people are divided into tribes rather than geopolitical or religious categories. I’m particularly interested in Arab and Dancing Girl because it exemplifies both the clichés and contradictions of Islamic ideas around sexuality. For an artist of her generation, Wylie is not crippled by political correctness that is also mirrored in her gestural and playful technique. The male faces in the painting express shock and desire burdened by guilt, which, coming from a Muslim family, makes me see a very immediate humour. It is the type of humour that is present in much of her art, and yet in this particular piece, she is able to make light of subject matter that is a bone of contention in many ways. This is not a Western demonisation of the Islamic world, but instead a very accurate portrait of certain tribes.