Continuing the themes of sexual harassment and satire from last year, I began this year with an installation for the week five exhibition named: The Entitled Hand, 2021. This piece comprised of a 200cm x 150cm painting, which portrayed a hand (painted in warm, soft tones) groping the fabric of the canvas, which was painted black. This was accompanied by a mirror ball and blue spotlight in the attempt to mimic a nightclub setting; whilst adding a visually stimulating element in the addition of the blue reflections to contrast the warm-toned hand as they graze across the painting. This piece as a whole was only effective when the exhibition space was dimly lit, and the painting was not successful when viewed independently.
For the week ten exhibition, I decided to explore the theme of refuting the male gaze, whilst relaying satirical concepts and continued with a painting I initially started for my project last year. Stop Staring II is an oil painting (154 x 53 cm) which conveys a nude female form, encrusted with eyes, against a dark background. Last year I thought about ways in which women could biologically “adapt” to escape potential sexual harassment/ assault through a mordant lens. One idea I had was for women to grow eyes all over their body, thereby optimising their vision, creating a fully 360 degree field of view. The number of eyes would be overtly excessive and alien, drawing inspiration from the idea of the grotesque. I drew parallels from Isaac Oliver’s The Rainbow Portrait, c.1490; an unusual royal portrait of Elizabeth I, as it implements surreal aspects (multiple eyes and ears are woven through the fabric of her dress). The excessive appendages are used here to portray strength in the monarchy; the Queen is all- seeing/ hearing, which provides an interesting contrast to the context of my own painting and has questioned my perception when reflecting on my work.
Recently, I have been researching the inherent misogyny within the medical community and how it affects the treatment of patients. In particular, I have been investigating the process of receiving tubal ligation, commonly referred to as getting one’s “tubes tied”. In most cases, a person is unable to have this procedure without first enduring misogynistic remarks in the attempt to dissuade their decision, and are often refused. Some recorded remarks from doctors from just last year include: “I’m not tying your tubes, I don’t think a woman should make that decision”, “A man may come along and want you to have his child, so I won’t do it” and “You’re not married” (Courtney Pochin, 2021). This perpetuates the archaic belief that people with uteruses must utilise them, and to not do so, is selfish.
The triptych, Studies of Teated figures, 2022, was created through the guise of a fictional art student; working on life drawings. This piece depicts three figures, each adorned with sets of “teats”, in poses reminiscent of Baroque, Romantic and Renaissance paintings, whilst further exploring the idea of the grotesque and the fetishisation of the grotesque woman (e.g. the gargantuan woman). The surreal aspect of these pieces parallels the treatment of animals as things to farm and commoditise, with the view of woman as baby- maker; their bodies are something to be controlled and exploited.
Although these drawings can be considered sensual, I didn't expect them to be sexualised when exhibited. I found it interesting to hear people’s thoughts and comments on these images which consolidated my research on the fetishisation of the grotesque.