As socially engaged artist, I source my work from the news media coverage of societal phenomena, policies and systems; such as religion, capitalism and globalism that cause unjust, discriminatory and violent consequences, and then visually process this information from a personal, feminist viewpoint. That is, I’m interested in matters of ethical consequence with respect to health, science, law and leadership in both public and private lives of women. My paintings function as a social commentary from a feminist angle, visually raging for gender equality. A painting usually starts with a moment of anger and frustration about women experiencing discrimination, sexism, violence which I then channel using a figurative vocabulary into a visual social critique. The painting/image takes shape in my mind simultaneously as I do research for which I turn to literature on social justice, women’s studies in anthropology, gender studies, UN Women annual reports and feminist art theory, a method I also used during my MA of Applied Ethics. Other artists also inspire my practice. For instance, to mention only a few, Nancy Spero (Torture of Women), Leon Golub (Raw Nerve), Ana Mendieta (Silueta Series and Untitled-Rape), Philip Guston (Riding Around). To me, these artists bear witness, in the sense that their work sheds light on phenomena that impact people’s lives unjustly, or violently. I work in series: For the #OBJECT! paintings, I reflect on the media’s representation of women and their stories about everyday sexism, inequality, gender based violence. Some of the paintings, conceived as political posters/pamphlets were available online for download to use in the public space all over the world (Posters for Progressives). I also designed a set of postcards from the paintings that I sent out to feminist institutions, clandestinely placed in library books and postcard displays in museum shops I visited for people to find. The Dying of the Light series is a visual reflection on our societies’ hardening and the darkening of our times with issues of human rights violations, terrorism, refugee crises, climate change and recently the pandemic we seem powerless against and that affect people unequally. My most recent body of work, The Anatomy Lesson, is a reflection on the way art and science approach the female body and in particular the gender bias that still exists in biomedical research. The first triptych panel is a further development of ‘Pre Existing Condition,’ an #OBJECT! painting about the 2017 controversial Trump Care Bill, aimed at stripping away women’s fundamental rights to control their own bodies and economic futures. The painting turns out to be relevant worldwide today. Just recently, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, that was set up to protect women, to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence. In Europe, abortion rights are frighteningly at stake in some member states. In Poland women protest the new abortion law, nearing a total abortion ban. In Belgium, the revision of the abortion law was dragged into the 2020 federal government formation talks. The monochromatic diptych, equally titled ’Pre Existing Condition,’ also organically grew from that first painting and expresses that same idea, as if I’m hammering on the same nail over and over, refusing to let women’s rights infringement issues to drop into the blind spot of culture - to paraphrase Olivia Laing (Funny Weather, Art in an Emergency.) My thinking about art’s functioning in society is consistent with that of authors like Olivia Laing, Siri Hustvedt (Living, Thinking, Looking and A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women) and philosopher Martha Nussbaum (Poetic Justice). Laing is adamant about the political, activist role art can play in people’s lives. For her, it has to do with art’s capability to conjure feeling. She argues that artworks that take you deeply into the reality of another person’s life are offering itself to the viewer’s emphatic capabilities. Laing thus believes in art as a creative, active and generous cultural force through which thinking happens and through which social justice can happen, making art essential to civilisation. Her idea of a ‘reparative reading’ of a work of art resonates with me. At the core of the reparative lies the motivation to make something that ‘gives’ to somebody else that you don’t know and that you might never meet. In other words it can offer compassion, a reasoning Martha Nussbaum expands for literature in that reading, through imagination, can open up our emphatic, compassionate capabilities. I agree with these thinkers that art has the potential, as a (latent) emancipating, emphatic force to touch people, to open the viewer’s world to other people’s experiences, their suffering, their issues, their reality. And maybe this may lead to other ways of being in the world with each other. I believe it can make us reflect differently on the way things are. These times, bombarded as we are by the news, the social media, images, reports of violence, wars, pandemic etc, it is easy to become numb, to look away, to feel impotent, unable to resist. Art can take the role to help us question the status quo, channel, process, point to blind spots. Maybe this has to do with a ‘viewing space in which time is stilled,’ in which the viewer looks at a painting, a quiet space outside of the turmoil and rushing real time media, as a force to create a different frame of mind.