noun-arrow-737316 Go back

Rue du Page 15, 1050 Bruxelles
Tuesday to Saturday

15.05.2024 | 15.06.2024
12AM to 6PM


Originating in underground LGBT+ communities, drag queens gained prominence in the early 20th century through vaudeville, cabaret, and underground clubs. Over the decades, they’ve become glittering icons of LGBTQ+ culture, celebrated for their fearless gender-bending and their unwavering stand for acceptance and equality. Drag queens were front and center at the Stonewall Riots of 1969, kicking off the LGBTQ+ rights movement and cementing their place in mainstream entertainment.

In the arts world, drag has long been explored through works that challenge rigid social and sexual archetypes. From surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp and his female alter ego Rrose Sélavy, famously photographed by Man Ray, to pop artists like Andy Warhol, the art of gender bending has often been adopted as an act of subversion. Taking a contemporary approach to this subject matter, Sabo draws upon the rich cultural history of drag to explore a personal narrative of queer fantasy rooted in themes of change, renewal, and self-discovery. Through his work, Kevin Sabo pays homage to drag culture while tracing its history through modern times. From its clandestine, underground beginnings to its current place in mainstream culture, Sabo's paintings seek to present drag as a powerful symbol of self-expression, liberation, and solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community.

Characterized by bold patterns, vibrant fabrics, and quirky grimace on distorted bodies barely contained by their frames, Sabo's subjects depict drag as an ongoing process of transformation. Entirely imagined and fictional, these character-style figures reference pivotal moments and influences in queer and pop culture.

For his debut solo exhibition in Belgium, titled Upper Crust, Sabo focuses on the influence of high fashion on the drag community. Inspired by the documentary ’Paris Is Burning’ and Madonna’s ‘Girlie Show’ Tour, that thrusted Vogueing into the mainstream, Sabo seeks to capture the extravagant, opulent essence of queer admiration and vogue culture.

This show presents each painting in pairs, juxtaposing "masc" (masculine) and "femme" (feminine) counterparts. Each feminine figure is matched with a painting of men in suits, marking a new direction for Sabo as he blends masculine elements with his signature prissy, feminine allure. 

Beyond fashion, this series also takes a playful jab at the corporate workplace, imagining how it could be transformed through the lens of drag. Each subject, whether masculine or feminine, is dressed in extravagant, whimsical outfits, with names that mock corporate culture.  Through the titles, Sabo humorously critiques what he considers absurdities of traditional corporate environments through wordplay and satirical references.

In ‘Upper Crust’, Sabo doesn’t just represent drag; he throws a fabulous, subversive party that celebrates the richness and resilience of the movement. His characters, while playing dress-up in over-the-top costumes, exude regality, fabulousness, and a hint of silliness. It’s loud, proud, and unapologetically queer.

Exhibition Details