“I strike it, stalk it, try to make it obey me. Then in its disobedience, it forms things I like.”
This is how Argentine painter Leonor Fini described her art-making process. Her body of work, fittingly, feels like the product of cosmic BDSM, with opalesque, otherworldly women engaged in cryptic exchanges of authority and surrender. Amalgamated visions of castration, shapeshifting and knife-wielding characterize her painted world, her every brushstroke making the supernatural realistic and the real supernatural.
Fini, born in 1907 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, lived her life as if it were a work of art, obeying no rules except her own. Often dressed in disguises or nothing at all, Fini intoxicated those around her with her intelligence, fearless wit and creative fire. Despite the imprint she left on those who knew her, like too many women artists, Fini’s name disappeared from the canon of art history following her death in 1996.
A new exhibition at San Francisco’s Weinstein Gallery is hoping to rectify this, honoring the legacy of the self-proclaimed “queen of the underworld” and her immense impact on surrealist and feminist art. In preparation, we’ve compiled a handy guide to living life the Leonor way. It involves lots of hard work and insistence, but also plenty of treats, like costumes, threesomes and Persian cats.