Rhea Micallef-Gavin Maltese, b. 19/07/1997
“If our clothing is our direct expression of self, how has the current state of gender identity influenced fashion brands and identity?”
Rhea Micallef Gavin, Maltese and based in London explores the relationship of social identity and the fashion industry through portraiture and printmaking.
Predominantly a painter, Rhea mixes oils with methods of lino print, monotype and digital print to explore the notions of masculinity from a feminine point of view. While simultaneously trying to re-define that binary. Since identity is performative and ever changing she constantly asks the question, “If our clothing is our direct expression of self, how has the current state of gender influenced fashion brands and identity?”
Rheas’ exploration started during her fashion undergraduate at Ravensbourne, London and rapidly became her foremost passion. Using painting as a form of research and investigation. This discussion was represented through androgynous identity, delicate silhouette and bold colour using oils. These oil paintings aim to explore the idea of “masculinity” in the gender conundrum that is today, by what it means to be a masculine woman and a not so masculine man in coherence with the fashion industry.
Rhea Micallef-Gavin’s First solo exhibition at The Crypt, a leading jazz club in Camberwell saw a variety of people question their own relationship with masculinity and how art and fashion has directed their own self-identification. This exhibition then led to being an artist at ‘MxMen positive masculinity’ festival and was one of the artists in Woolwich contemporary print fair 2019, the UK’s largest print fair.
Finally, with an exhibition coming up in April 2021 and looking to prepare by exploring our sense of identity in this state of isolation. I am currently questioning identity through the lens of my living room and also considering the point of view of the garment when the wearer is muted. This includes paintings on Perspex glass and a short digital print series blending oil pastel, charcoal, oil paint and past unused 35mm outcomes from her Olympus OM10. She used these processes to investigate the nature of identity and how the idea of self is often performative and therefore reflective of the circumstance we are in.
Asking questions like does one lose oneself if deprived of others? What is the relationship between my idea of myself and my demographic? The furniture acts as grounding to the prints to represent quiet, lonely reflection in the home in her head.