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[NSFW] Bunny Lee’s Nude Neon Women Don’t Care If You Stare

The Bronx-based artist's submissive subjects are colorful, strong, and unapologetic about their sexuality.

by J.H. Fearless
24 April 2017, 10:40pm

Freckled, strong, plump-cheeked and unsmiling, these sexually-liberated women are living for themselves—not for you. Painted in cartoon colors, usually nude and often in rope bondage, their exhibitionistic poses and defiant faces challenge you to look again, and look closer this time.

This is the world of painter Bunny Lee, who has chronicled her own journey to sexual empowerment through her Instagram feed. Interspersed with gouache paintings and watercolor sketches are shots of Lee's other art form: rope bondage. In both painting and binding, she cheerfully explores what it means to be unafraid of bodies and pleasure. The surliness of her subjects almost makes them seem satisfied; tired of the world, maybe, but glad to know who they really are, and unashamed to show it.

A 28-year-old Bronx resident, Lee has been drawing her entire life. She attended the High School of Art and Design in New York, but admits, "I was a terrible student, so I didn't learn much there. I consider myself self-taught."

Her style is primarily influenced by anime, which she watches for hours while sketching "until I sketch something I like. Once I do, I'll make that one sketch into a piece." This usually means painting with acrylic gouache and watercolor, which produce the colors she loves.

As Lee started practicing rope binding in her own life, she became fascinated with the possibilities for interesting patterns, shapes, designs, and historical references. Rope and bondage have become part of the narrative of her characters' universe: "My work explores all my interest and my journey to my own comfortability in my sexuality. The characters in my work are soft but show defiance in being submissive, it's a reflection of my own experiences."

In recent months, Lee has been experimenting with some new themes for her pieces: stretching tongues, adding new pairs of eyes, and introducing snakes, lobsters, and swords. "The narrative is changing," she says. "I'm exploring more in-depth influences in my life like culture, food, colors, diversity and my upbringing." She's also trying more patterns and adding depth to the characters.

Lee's work is a frank exploration of sexuality and visibility, with an undercurrent of emotion that feels completely authentic. Her women are fully realized characters, tired of the world but proud of themselves. It's a beautiful reflection of the artist's own persona, and a powerful message to take in.

Bunny Lee's paintings, as well as occasional pin and sticker runs, are all available on her Instagram.

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