Pro-state Property (2020) shows the artist in a lalitasana pose, or position of royal ease. The title is a clever pun that implies both sexual gratification and being an instrument of the state (pro-state), with the signature green SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) singlet acting as a garment that both clothes and restricts Marla within a stifling gender binary. Despite that, the figure is thoroughly at ease with a relaxed air. The layering of oil allowed Marla to paint her body with a renewed sense of tenderness, as each coat of colour takes on the tactile realness of skin and each mark on the canvas represents a sinuous curve. The artist reconnects with her own body through this intimately tactile painting process, as the warm pink hues are suffused with a sensuality that clothes cannot contain. In an act of artistic reclamation, Marla attempts to loosen the body from societal restraints so that she may gently caress the various parts of her – both masculine and feminine properties – and come to be comfortable in her own skin.
Marla Bendini is a transgender, non-binary, visual and performance artist based in Singapore. The artistic persona of Marla found her roots in the intersection between art and life, allowing her to confidently embody a fluidity that is vivacious and transgressive in conservative Singapore. Her works are a synthesis of inner thoughts and external scenes that examine various liminal realities; the rich interstices between societal expectations and personal identity, and the beauty of the in-between. Her trans identity is deeply intertwined with her practice, as her work is also concerned with how the trans body allows one to adopt a unique artistic perspective and develop a personal voice that actively challenges conventional constructs of identity. Marla has performed and exhibited her work in Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Sweden, Spain, and the U.S. Most recently, Marla has had two solo exhibitions in Coda Culture, namely “April Fools” in 2020, and “IMHO” in 2019. Her latest solo exhibition, titled "Back Room" was held at Cuturi Gallery, Singapore, in 2021.
Oil on canvas
76 cm x 102 cm