Site icon Jessica K Ballantyne

Artist Statement

My art is a search for meaning in and beyond the body.  I play with the representation and the perception of the naked female body . I consider this a problematic area of portrayal as the naked body is so inextricably linked to personal and individual experience. The body seen and experienced is given meaning depending on the viewer’s context, culture and social conditioning.

 

Bodies of women have, throughout history to the present, been largely presented and portrayed as consumable objects.

 

As a viewer, you may notice that in my paintings, the body is displayed and offered but not in the usual conventional manner. The purpose of this is to create a sense of distance between the viewer and the body. In past portrayals of women and in the media today, the image of the nude female body was, and is, often created and displayed to serve the viewer’s fantasy and supposed desire.

I adopt the opposite view; the perspective of the model, not the perspective of the viewer. The body is painted to present an autonomy and individuality or to comment on the lack of it in portrayals of women.

I am inspired by Surrealism’s use of distortion, repetition and illusion when portraying the female body. I use these techniques to create a body that is inviting but challenging at the same time. I show a sexuality that is neither explicit, nor moderated. The female body remains an ‘object’ of pleasure and fascination, whilst imbibing elements of individual psychology.

I value the presence in the body as the ‘subject’.  The usual relationship between body and viewer is object (body) vs subject (viewer).  My wish is to change this relationship. Painting and rendering the female form with techniques akin to photography, is a way for me to reposition the body and form a new relationship between the painting and the viewer. A relationship that is not fully based on the desires of the viewer and what they may want to see, but on the space of feminine subjectivity and experience.

At an early age I realised the power of the body as a prolific site of meanings . I saw that the body was a location of pleasure and pain as well as a sight; an object for the gaze of others. I found, as a woman, that there was little control over the latter.

 

My paintings are a statement about this kind of gaze, the kind of gaze between object (body) and subject (viewer). Through my work I strive to change traditional meanings associated with the female body and create a body that gives a voice to the female experience.

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