The essay "Girl powdering her neck" concerns The painting “Girl Powdering her Neck”. The figures of women that he portrayed through his art served to provide them with a voice in a society where they were often marginalized and oppressed. Utamaro’s paintings serve to show women in their positions of vulnerability and seek to show the forces of the society that place them in these positions of vulnerability. The painting “Girl Powdering her Neck” is one where the reflection of a woman’s face assumes the centre stage on the canvas. The vulnerability of a woman in the society is revealed through the depiction of a frail and delicate woman who is grooming herself so as to maintain her beauty, her only asset in a masculinist and patriarchal society. The painting shows the reflection of the woman and thus serves to remind one that what is seen of a woman in public is often nothing but her reflection. Her real self is never revealed to the world because of the constraints of the society which frames her in a mirror and confines her identity to her physical self. Utamaro questions this structure if the society and talks of how it would be possible for women to come out of their cloistered existence only if they were given the chance to express their real selves. What Utamaro does, ironically, confines the woman within a painting without giving her an alternative existence. The poem “Girl Powdering Her Neck”, talks of this very inability of the woman to break out of the moulds that were made for her.
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The essay analyzes The painting “Girl Powdering her Neck”. Kitagawa Utamaro is considered to be one of the most important contributors to the field of painting. He lived in Japan during the eighteenth century and practised the art of woodblock prints. …
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