venus revealed statement

VENUS REVEALED / forbidden fruit
 
Last year I began a series using 'Venus/Aphrodite' as a springboard for exploring femaleness... along with love, and comfort of the earth, and gentleness.  I began with a figurative piece titled 'Venus Reviled.' Then to prepare for the second piece, I did extensive photo studies of my daughter, who is a teenager and just moving into womanhood. She was blindfolded in the studies and the painting was going to be called 'Venus Revealed.'
 
But somehow I just couldn't do the painting.
 
Instead I felt the need to paint the human figure as flowers... which annoyed me greatly.  Painting flowers is politically dangerous for a female artist, playing right into cultural stereotypes. It sets you up to be dismissed. I didn't want to do it. And of course the question of sex and daughters and in fact femininity in our culture is fraught with risk and objective danger. So I was facing layers of resistance as I worked.
 
Nevertheless I felt impelled. I did figures as flowers and fruits, and I included other still life elements painted and collaged from my studio life. The collage aspect is a gentle way of bringing different and even contradictory elements together not battling but creating a whole new image together. It forms a kind of pansexual merging, just as in nature.
 
And the original photo-studies made their way into the paintings after all: I realized that these were Venus revealing herself in the gentle and dynamic way of nature, both half-hidden and right out there to be seen. These paintings are feminine-sexual, and are superficially about the beautiful flowers, fruit, young girls but I wanted them to be also made of common, earthy substance, oil paint and photo paper, ordinary stuff.
 

As always, painting leaves me with curiosity. What is revealed Ķand hidden? And to whom? What is the interaction between internal and external landscapes? What happens along those edges of resistance and fear? Can that which has been lost spring anew?





  All images and content Katherine Ace

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