Decomposing Head

Decomposing Head

© Rae Johnson

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Date: 2005
Materials: digitally created image, over-painted with cold wax medium and oil paint, printed on watercolour paper
Measurements: 24 x 30 in.

"Beautiful Dead Girls", or "Sleeping Beauty"

These paintings are contemplations on current ideals of beauty and desire, taken from the entertainment media, embedded in the timeless theme of Sex and Death.

In this series of work, I have concentrated on capturing television images of the "pretend" female corpse. The centre piece of the wildly popular forensic crime show genre, she belongs in the same category with Sleeping Beauty, Hamlet's Ophelia, Persephone and all mythical figures of feminine passivity in the extreme.

The current version of the ravaged heroine, is a fetishistic creature of contemporary lust and revulsion portraying a particular kind of Beauty œ motionless, mute, and dead œ a mortiferous object on which to project the collective fears and desires of the viewing public. The banal ugliness of brutality is glamourized in scenes of artfully constructed fictions blurring reality with fantasies of fear, repulsion and desire.

Removed from reality and elegantly restaged, the Brutal is somehow made Aesthetic. Images of Horror are made Beautiful. These paintings are intended to be visually beautiful and at the same time, subtly disturbing. They are reflections of artificially constructed images of eroticism and death in popular entertainment culture.

This work was created at the Banff Centre for the Arts. The landscape elements are Albertan mountains and skies interrupted by highways and factories. The figurative elements are taken from broadcast television.


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