This painting emerged from a study of how men and women have been portrayed together in art for centuries. Women are traditionally depicted as a weaker, less powerful figures. I studied Édouard Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and Lucian Freud's And the Bridegroom in detail.
Freud, as a contemporary painter, depicted a more realistic, "equal" male and female combination where both models are naked, but the male body, despite being positioned behind the woman's, still dominates the scene with its size and its body language (what is now dubbed "manspreading"). I wondered if I could overcome the biological (read, size) differences of men and women, to create a piece of art that came closer to depicting gender equality.
In order to do so, I altered the proportions and features of my face, to match my partner’s slightly larger one. (Yes, for some unimaginable reason I chose to alter myself, not him.) Now, our faces are the same height, our noses, chins and eyes on the same level. But this is a fantasy. It is a fantasy that if women were physically and visibly equal to men, we’d be equal in every other respect. It also hints at a type of feminism that I sometimes wonder if does more damage than good: the attitude that women should be able to, should want to, and should do everything that men do, in order to achieve equal status, instead of changing society so we value more typically "female" tendencies such as emotional vulnerability and caregiving equally as more typically "male" tendencies such as leadership and risk-taking. I dream of a society where such tendencies are valued (and paid) equally, therefore allowing people of all genders to choose the path that is most right for them. Perhaps we'd see more male nurses, or more female CEOs; perhaps we wouldn't. But it wouldn't matter, because a nurse and a CEO would be equally valued by society.
We should not be trying to paint over all the differences between genders so much so that we become the same, we should be allowing for a multitude of differences, regardless of gender, and valuing each human equally.