FF2 Media Reviews Olivia Sterling's CCA Exhibition 'Really Rough Scrubbing Brush"

Jessica Bond , 1 Dec 2021

‘Really Rough Scrubbing Brush’ Takes Aim at “Blackfishing” 


Around the world, the beauty industry has a reputation for preying on women’s insecurities. It has also encouraged women with darker skin tones to lighten their skin using cosmetic procedures such as skin bleaching. Olivia Sterling’s most recent work, Really Rough Scrubbing Brush, at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art comments on the British tanning industry and how white women are praised for becoming “bronzed goddesses” while ignoring the detrimental impact this trend has on women with darker skin tones.


Currently on view until October 31st, Sterling’s paintings are inspired by 18th-century political cartoons that used caricatures as a tool for political critique. Sterling uses bright colors throughout the collection that contribute to the mayhem depicted within each painting. In the painting, Pasty Legs Begone!, two pairs of legs seemingly belonging to white women are covered in either tanning lotion or chocolate pudding. The painting depicts both half-eaten pudding containers and a tanning lotion bottle. As the curvy white women lather their bodies with either substance or the other, they enhance the curves on their bodies to a point that borders on racial ambiguity.

of 103