Portuguese Canadian artist Kevin Ledo exemplifies the similar visual techniques of ancient religious paintings to modern day female exploitative advertisements. Growing up a devout Catholic, Ledo was exposed to the Byzantine era iconic depictions of women. With age, he was drawn into the art community and was educated as an illustrator. Though he doesn’t define himself singularly under any one of these categories, he is clearly inspired by both religion and art. It is especially evident in this series, entitled The Guiding Light, which features nearly-nude women in graceful and simultaneously seductive poses. He combines his past devotion to his faith with the present-day sexualization of women in advertising to reflect his created saints of fashion labels.
Ledo brilliantly explains his motives behind this serious: “I am attempting to demonstrate how seemingly unrelated institutions of different times both use similar techniques of visual persuasion. Religious icon paintings were, at a time, the most prevalent images in western societies, while today some of the most prevalent images are commercial advertisements. In both cases I find the images to be persuasive, influential, use comparable methods of emphasizing perfection and often insinuate the promise of something better.”
Painting with oil and acrylic paints, Ledo incorporates 22 karat gold leaf as well as other metals into the paintings. These lustrous materials form a shining halo of golden light behind each woman’s head, emphasizing and accentuating the religious motif. This controversial connection is drawn remarkably well by Ledo who admits that this series is also “an effort to reveal some of the values born of capitalist societies and intends to provide a platform for recognizing the influential power of ideals propagated through imagery.”