That Beautiful Deformity – A photoessay on the hybrid grotesque ornamental displaced body

‘What is the meaning of those ridiculous monsters, of that deformed beauty, that beautiful deformity ….’ St Bernard of Clairvaux

A juxtaposition of my work and images of hybrid grotesque ornament (grotteschi) from one of my favourite books, Ornament and the Grotesque by Alessandra Zamperini. My work is strongly influenced by these monsters in the margins of Western canonical art. When I came to live in the UK I was drawn to these forms.

As Zamperini says they juxtapose a dream like quality with irony, and my work explores this disruptive juxtaposition of the beautiful and the disturbing. The hybrid metamorphic form brings together the abstract flowing forms of arabesques, with disruptive representational elements. Strongly disapproved of, heterodox, marginal and subversive. Combining poetically outlandish and improbable elements, they evoke the body and all its abject pain, affects and sensations, but also for me they show how the body is in an intense engagement with world, drawing it in and incorporating it.

Coming from a fractured and complicated cultural heritage, they powerfully appealed to my subjective sense of my body as hybrid, fragmented and boundary crossing. Fleshy, carnal, yet ethereal, they appear to be ornaments of no consequence, yet they embed a disruptive and questioning force that made them endlessly fascinating to artists across the ages.

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watercolour and gesso on paper 56cm x 76cm

watercolour and gesso on paper 56cm x 76cm

Marguerite's interoception of her body's interior spaces textures surfaces volumes

Marguerite’s interoception of her body’s interior spaces textures surfaces volumes

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Detail of Tendril - a physical thought/feeling inside my body - watercolour on paper, indigo paint 140cm x 75cm

Detail of Tendril – a physical thought/feeling inside my body – watercolour on paper, indigo paint 140cm x 75cm

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Little Porcelain Blues – watercolour on paper 140cm x 75cm

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Detail from Little Porcelain Blues – watercolour on paper 140cm x 75cm

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Object sensations touch sound OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Vintage Vidicon lens

Object sensations touch sound OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Vintage Vidicon lens

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Bottle Neck - watercolour on paper, pencil and oil pastel, 56cm x 76cm

Bottle Neck – watercolour on paper, pencil and oil pastel, 56cm x 76cm

Woman Fish - watercolour on paper, gold acrylic, 29cm x 76cm

Woman Fish – watercolour on paper, gold acrylic, 29cm x 76cm

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Marguerite's interoception of her body's interior spaces textures surfaces volumes

Marguerite’s interoception of her body’s interior spaces textures surfaces volumes

 

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