During my classes with Cath Davies we explored various topics on the definition of “glamorous and “grotesque.” I chose this option as I find my work does explore both topics, I have always had a fascination with death and try to combine it within my art through painting, drawing or poetry etc.
This class helped me understand what it was I was curious about. But regarding firstly the glamorous, we explored beautiful, glamour movie stars who had perfect skin, who wore make-up and had voluptuous curves etc. This made me question why do we find certain pieces of art more beautiful than others, from Greek goddesses being of white marble are always portrayed as beautiful, but say for example Francis Bacon, his art is considered grotesque I personally love his work but it is all down to personal taste.
It made me consider is it due to society and what is traditional art, in the sense of a Western and Eastern approach and perspective, like the choice of border, colour and what audience is it aimed at?
Cath questions the normalities in art and she demonstrated how people and artists pushed the boundaries.
We studied Alexander McQueen and his approach in the fashion industry, he was quite admired for his unique new style as fashion is directly aimed at people to wear the clothes and to sell in mass production, it had rules such as evening wear, a dress code. He took this theory and twisted it and made clothes that people could not physically wear in several cases. He quoted,
“I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things (McQueen, 2007)”
His work is beautiful but not practical like his flower dress, the petals were falling off as the model walked. It’s not practical in the weather as it will rot eventually.
Another piece we explored was a worm dress, where the model actually had bugs within the see through material covering her breasts. Traditionally society would not accept this as normal to wear in public, the body has to be covered and unexposed.
Rules is something I questioned a lot in Cath’s class and it lead me to question my own practice, why does my art have to be pretty, how could I combine the grotesque and beauty in one piece? I will probably question this within my practice for years to come.
The second part we explored was monsters and liminal creatures, which in other words translates to the in-between such as wear wolves, zombies etc. I have always loved horror films and anything gore like, it was interesting to explore how we find the exterior of the human body beautiful and the inner grotesque and if the two are mixed for example during a woman’s menstrual cycle is quite taboo, yet sacred. But do we fear them as they are out of our control?
These explore life and death, rules, traditional viewpoint’s, but mainly helped me question myself in my practice and what was my objectives. For example I have always loved Gunther Von Hagens and his body world and that fascination of seeing the body from a different perspective. Context wise, horror films and tv shows such as the Walking Dead or Nosferatu are terrifying as we do not expect or see it in our everyday lives.
The in-between, fantasy and reality is something to question in my future work. But tradition is something I’m questioning at the moment regarding the East and West as we explored fashion from Japan, it’s function and relates and contains architectural structure to the buildings there, but much like McQueen two Japanese fashion designers Kawakubo and Yamamoto also made clothing that was not practical or beautiful, the one dress cannot be sat down in and the traditional hunchback is not considered of beauty, which is different to traditional Ukiyo-e art.
I may study further into this for my dissertation as it made me realise how much I enjoy Japanese art and I want to learn more about their ruled and culture between the East and West.
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