Bel Fullana and the Rape of Isla Bonita

Freight and Volume, May 22 – July 7, 2019

“All inclusive” (2019)

Does All inclusive look like a display of “playful sexual freedom” to you?
This painting and the other two paintings in this essay are described that way in the gallery press release, which also employs forms of the words “ambiguity” and “irony”.

All inclusive is, arguably, the best painting in this terrible show, because of its directness, economy and lack of badly painted background cliché. It shows utter contempt of the female subject. But, what else is it other than an advertisement for the island?—to the kind of men who go there. And since Fullana herself is describing playful sexual freedom—where’s the irony?

Fullana is from Mallorca, an island known for its beauty and also for “balconing”—jumping off a balcony into a swimming pool or onto other balconies—6 deaths in 2018— and “mammading” a game where bars encourage young women to perform sex acts in return for free alcohol. Over ten million tourists a year—ten times the local population, 986 flights to Palma on a recent day. A majority of the tourists are men—possibly as high as 2:1, and thousands of prostitutes are available.

“Pool Party” (2019)

And yet, in these paintings Fullana singles out the women, showcasing the vacuous starry-eyed sluts willing to suck rainbow cum and fart a pink cloud and “like it.” Men are literally peripheral. I question the idea that women “like it” of course. Men, no matter how contemptuously they treat their sexual partners, seem to need to believe that. Even rapists and pedophiles often justify themselves with the idea that their victims “like it” and part of being a prostitute is appearing to “like it”.

Mallorca “likes it” too. There have been protests against tourism as the island has been environmentally and culturally degraded but they are enlarging their airport to handle more flights and advertising their beaches even as they dump the overflow of untreated sewage into the ocean.

“Stacey Malibu and Kandy Kalifornia” (2019)

Two interchangeable girls out to attract two interchangeable guys; their judgment is impaired, no doubt, before they ever take a drink and before some “fun loving” guy puts a roofie in it.
But—one dimensional, crudely painted—not at all “childishly naïve” as the press release states—the women depicted are the Other. They are dehumanized and I have a problem with that because men so often dehumanize them too.
These are angry paintings and it would be better if the artist and the gallery were more honest and describe them as such. Women are blameable, go ahead and blame them! Or perhaps describe them as a metaphor of Mallorca itself?

Whatever their intent, these are not good paintings. For a good artist, everything in the painting, every character in a novel is a part of themselves. Flaubert: “Madame Bovary, c’est moi!” and Shakespeare: “If we are pricked do we not bleed?”

—CNQ