36 x 96 inches | Oil fingerpainting plus brushes
Towering eight feet high, looking down at the viewer, is a non-gender-binary goddess named Manghoe Lassi. A peacock-psychadelia of radiant fabric cascades down her body. The glowing center of the dress emulates the stained glass windows of grand cathedrals. Tiny yellow flower petals float around her torso. Her serpentine turban wraps up into possible infinity. The collar seems to be made of fine violet feathers. A jeweled necklace sits above a plunging, orange-red bodice that frames a lovely hairy chest. Oversized sleeves reminiscent of ceremonial robes complete the extra long, glowing dress that exudes warm authority and fearless sense of self.
Manghoe Lassi is the drag queen alter ego of Toronto-based Humza A. Mian, vet technician (@_Humzer). Humza was raised in a Muslim household just outside of Toronto. He was made to repress any part of him that acted feminine. The young boy had no examples or role models to help guide his creative expression of self. However, once he perfected his skills of realistic portraiture painting, he turned the paintbrushes on himself. On Halloween, in 2016, the magnificent, celebratory Manghoe Lassi was born and made her debut for audiences both online and on the real stage. Humza became the role model of creative self expression. Manghoe Lassi was also a therapeutic outlet that helped him cope with working in a veterinary clinic where so many little sick animals need care.
I painted this portrait because Nature to me is a drag queen, flamboyant and non-binary. Paired as one being, creatures become male, female, both, neither, beyond. Nature isn’t just about efficiency and conformity, it’s about being too much, over the top, taking risks! The bowerbird is artistically passionate for creativity’s sake; a peacock’s tail does not help it get away from predators—it is a beautiful burden happily carried. Ritual in Pairing is about the wonderfully superfluous display of color, dance, fashion, and sculpture that we perform to enchant a beloved audience.
I love this painting so much. I love looking at it. Centuries ago, only men could pose as women; later, artists like Toulouse Lautrec painted men in drag…a lot of my favorite painters painted fluidly across genders, and I am carrying on the tradition. Another tradition through history is that artists have painted portraits of social leaders of their time. This goddess is here now, this is Manghoe Lassi…rising.