This series reflects my ongoing research into the abject, the grotesque threat that lingers, just out of sight, in the peripheries - of bodies, of gender, of place. The paintings are all self-portraits, beginning as nudes and natures mortes, then losing their form in areas of high texture, colour and abstraction, becoming unsettling and grotesque. I’m interested in the apparent aestheticism of a feminine gender performance - John Berger claims, “Men act and women appear. Men look, and women watch themselves being looked at.” If femininity is in seeming and being seen, then the performance is under threat in moments of privacy, of grotesque intimacy. I display my own interior life in the context of European nudes and allegorical painting, confronting the titillating voyeurism typical of the genre through the lens of a threatening abject. My own home, as the primary site of my experiences with anxiety, depression, and mental illness, takes on a sinister role, full of rotten food, cluttered refuse and discarded objects, while the (my) body reflects interior turmoil, displaying in paint the itching, scratching, picking habits associated with my feelings of panic or mania. Daily tasks related ideologically to femininity - cooking and tidying, applying makeup and maintaining the appearance - take on a disturbing cast, reflective of the anxieties and obsessive thinking I’ve come to associate with them.
The abject is, at it’s core, life’s inescapable fear of contamination by the rotten, the refuse, the reminder of the corpse - that which can never be cast aside. Like an intrusive thought, or the panic attack that you’ve pushed back all week, it lives in the margins, a source of threat and intrigue. It is attractive, as attractive as the whitehead on a pimple, the mysterious tupperware in the back of the fridge, the scab that must be poked and picked and picked, until it scars.