You may have heard that old refrain, according to which a good woman is worth her weight in gold. Portuguese-Canadian artistKevin Ledo seems to have taken it quite literally with his The Guiding Light series of oil and acrylic paintings. There is an unmistakable blend of religious sentiment and sensuality to his works, which partly stems from the artist’s devoutly Catholic upbringing, and partly from his aesthetic and political principles. Ledo, an illustrator as well as painter, grew up inspired by Byzantine religious artwork and subsequently decided to incorporate techniques from that era into his contemporary works. He paints portraits of women, as well as sensuous near nudes, which he then partly covers in 22 karat gold leaf, as well as other metals and metal alloys.
Ledo’s work may be considered sacrilegious by many, though his intent is noble to say the least. By gilding the woman, he is attempting to demonstrate how modern Western societies glorify a vapid image of femininity. They elevate that image to cult-like status, yet still subject females to derision and demeaning over-sexing. According to the artist himself, “I am attempting to demonstrate how seemingly unrelated institutions of different times both use similar techniques of visual persuasion. Religious icon paintings were, at a time, the most prevalent images in western societies, while today some of the most prevalent images are commercial advertisements. In both cases I find the images to be persuasive, influential, use comparable methods of emphasizing perfection and often insinuate the promise of something better.”