Meet Rosso

Rosso is a London-based painter who describes herself as a “transitional” realist to describe her work’s changing nature and variety of styles.


Her work draws from a wide span of artistic movements from Photorealism to Street Art, while also embracing the expressive brushstrokes and markings of Abstract Expressionism.

By Lisa Salerno

The portraits that she paints are striking depictions of carnivalesque characters, and include symbols of contemporary urban folklore as well as religious iconography. Each portrait embodies certain fears and feelings while exposing some of the taboos of modern day society.

Rosso states that her art is a reflection of “the irony and conundrums of the human condition”, and that “each character impersonates feelings, fears, themes and taboos commonly experienced, resonating with the viewers’ subconscious in very distinct, subjective ways.”

Of all her stunning work, perhaps one of Rosso’s most memorable pieces would be her self-portrait, “Madame Moustache”, which was inspired by Manet’s “Olympia”, whose confrontational gaze caused shock and astonishment when the painting was first exhibited at the 1865 Paris Salon. Not only did a number of details in the painting suggest Manet’s subject was a prostitute, the direct gaze of the subject was much more strong and subversive than a traditional female nude, therefore deemed inappropriate.


Rosso’s take on Olympia is of a reclining nude is also beautifully painted with a traditional approach, however Rosso’s subject exhibits an unconventional beauty, with her shaved head, tattooed arm sleeve, stretched out earlobes and Rosso’s addition of facial hair, which is actual human hair glued onto the canvas. If we are pulling from Rosso’s carnavalesque theme, Madame Moustache would for sure be the bearded lady.

Rosso states that her art can be either “confronting or comforting depending on the viewer.” Personally, I find her Madame Mustache to be oddly comforting and empowering, as the subject appears to be so relaxed and self-assured. She is not here to please you; as you the viewer just walked into her space. She says nothing, but waits for you to react. If it is discomfort you are feeling, it is up to you to seek out why this is so, and perhaps also why you may have been conditioned to feel this way.

Rosso was born in Sicily in 1978, moved to London in 2004 to finish her academic studies in international relations and human rights followed by a few years working in marketing and advertising. Primarily self-taught, Rosso trained briefly at the Prince Drawing School and at LARA (London Atelier of Representational Art) before embarking on a full time professional painting career in 2014.

She has exhibited mainly in London and her painting “Madame Moustache” recently won the Emerald Winter Pride Arts Award 2016.

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