Turkish artist Nur Gurel makes skinny models obese, turns fashion on its head

Powerful, seductive, and over 300 pounds: these are the women that Nur Gurel paints. The Turkish artist transforms fashion ads with oil paints, revealing just how powerful the media is when it comes to ideas of beauty.

Follow Nur Gurel on Instagram

Nur Gurel. Toy with Proportion 7, mixed media on magazine. (Instagram/@nurgurell)

Name: Nur Gurel

Instagram: @nurgurell

You know you're never going to look like a supermodel. You know even the supermodels don't look like supermodels. You're smart, you're PhotoShop-literate, you can see through all the unattainable glam like you're Daria wearing They Live sunglasses.

But just because a Victoria Secret catalogue will never make you starve yourself pretty, the media is still a major influence on what we want and what we think is beautiful. If you have any doubt, follow Nur Gurel on Instagram.

Powerful, seductive, and over 300 pounds: these are the women that Gurel paints.

The pictures we're sharing from her Instagram are part of a series that the Istanbul-based artist calls "Toy With Proportions," a straightforward title if ever there was one.

Taking pages from old magazines, Gurel transforms lithe fashion models, using oil paint to pad them with rolls upon rolls of flesh. The physiques that Gurel paints are as artificial — and arguably as unattainable — as the bodies in the original photographs. 

But any shape can seem ideal when it's front-and-centre in a magazine ad, a form that's designed to sell us on what is beautiful.

The project started as a bit of a lark, Gurel explains. "I collected various magazines in different topics from second-hand booksellers. It became a session of playing games for me," Gurel tells CBC Arts by e-mail, "like drawing eyebrows and moustaches on pictures in our childhood."

Magazines "already [have] a manipulated language," says Gurel. What she's doing with "Toy With Proportions" just flips the message, "using the images with the same power."

Social media can be so much more than selfies and viral videos — it's increasingly becoming a scratch pad for emerging artists and other creative minds to show off their latest work. Artstagram curates the best visual talent on Instagram, helping bring a little more art into your daily feed.​


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