June Mostra 2016 / Meet the artists … Damien Duffy

Over the next few days we will be introducing you in turn to our seven resident artists who will be exhibiting in the June Mostra on Friday 17 June. With the mostra opening at the end of this week we meet with Damien Duffy to find out what artwork he has made for the exhibtion and how his residency at the BSR has affected how he appraches his practice.

Damien Duffy (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow)

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Damien Duffy’s work continues within the thread of taking landmark works as ready-mades in order to shift their agency to address new meanings and contexts.  Looking awry at history painting these works co-opt an appropriation of Jasper Johns’ White Flag and Sturtevant’s copy of the same. False Flag opens the question on ambiguity of authorship that morphs into questions on recent history, counter narratives and 9/11. Back Stab similarly looks at the nefarious Operation Gladio within the ‘anni di piombo’ in Italy in the 70s.

This is your second mostra at the BSR, how has your work changed in the last three months and what have you chosen to exhibit this time?

Making the piece for the last mostra made me rethink how I approached my original idea and it is this reassessment that has been one of the most positive aspects from my time as a resident here, it has also given me more confidence to adopt a certain approach about how I make work.

I have two pieces of work for the upcoming mostra. In a strange kind of a way they are history paintings that have been born out of recognising the appropriation I used of Twombly’s motifs in order to deal with current events in the Mediterranean. That’s not to say I simply want my work to engage solely as history paintings because these works are a more skewed approach to history painting, like Hegels’ owl of Minerva hitting a sheet glass window, there’s a kernel of subversion in them.

They are looking at events within the 20th and 21st century, but through counter narratives. History is written by the victors, however with the super abundance of other information the victor’s narrative is now more vulnerable to counter narratives and these are often denigrated as conspiracy.

With the two pieces of work I’m making for this mostra, one looks at one of the pivotal events of the 21st century, 9/11. The title of the piece is False Flag and it harnesses a system of suggested references.

As soon as you paint an American Flag there is an immediate reference to the artist Jasper Johns as he made the American flag pivotal in his work. The second painting of the flag that I’m working with is Stutevant’s copy of the Johns.

The copy and the original together brings up the question of authorship, the pieces will be hung quite high on the wall with the stripes of the flags extending down the wall in a very mute grey, that also being an indirect reference to Daniel Buren, an adaptation of his work that gives the two flags the profile of the world trade centre towers.

The term ‘false flag’, although at first glance might reference a question of authorship, is actually a term used in a military event when a country attacks or stages an attack upon itself in order to attack a particular target or a particular enemy. So the false flag narrative or counter narrative is something that exists in the popular sub-cultural consciousness,this work then proffers this idea that there is another narrative to be looked at when concerning 9/11. These paintings along with a small sculpture of a tin foil hat in the foreground. This object inserts an element of subversive humour into this piece. Like a memorial to the fallen, with the helmet of a solders, or the folk memorials to first responders, so the tin foil hat represents the denigrating headgear of the conspiracy theorists. In its ambiguity it seeks to question the counter narrative as much as it profers it.

The other piece is an indirect reference to events in Italy during the ‘anni di piombo’ or the ‘Years of Lead’, a period of political instability in the 1970s and 1980s. Within my research of that which has come to light is the American intelligence’s involvement in generating some of the nefarious events of the 1970s in order to destabilise an Italian left-wing government. This suspicion that has been evidenced as ‘real’ in this case underpins the counter narrative in the other work. This piece is called Back Stab as it stabs backwards into history but it is also a back stab at making a political art, as it gets subsumed into an aesthetic.

This piece is made by a pouring of white lead paint over a black background – this gives an appearance of a lead mirror, alongside this a vase of white Gladioli, a reference to Operation Gladio. So what might appear as just a pretty piece of gallery decoration is basically the sublimation of this piece of political artwork into a generic aesthetic, or its subversive presence within these generic aesthetic references. It flickers between these two states.

Both of your pieces for the upcoming mostra have this 3D relief effect where the artwork extends beyond the wall. Is that an intentional move to create a theme in your work?

The flag piece is something that stems from the original painting from Jasper Johns and his intention to underscore the objecthood of the painting. It will always flicker between being a painting and a representation of the flag, but it is also a flag at the same time. However, one of the things that has come to light in how I approach making work here is a desire to keep pieces of work in as close proximity to the ‘real’ as possible. Trying to avoid distractions, stripping out the ‘painterliness’, make them more ‘in’ the world. They are not idealised, their matter-of-factness is what I’m trying to underscore.

Looking at your practice more closely, you seem to be someone who — once you have an idea — will work on it as you create the art. I have seen the False Flag piece a number of times during its creation and each time it is different. Do you often work in this layered process?

One of the things that has come to light in the process of working here is that I have made pieces of work that appear to be almost too complete at a very early stage of their creation. What I’ve learned from the residency is possibly allowing that ‘completeness’ to rest and work with it. With these two paintings, because they are concerned with a certain replication I’ve been trying to get that replication right. This has created its own problems that requires a renegotiation of how that looks and what I want in the work. The various transformations that you have seen are the physical evidence of where I have worked through it mentally and then physically changed tack.

Is there anything in your practice that has particularly changed since being here that you are wanting to take home with you. Either ideas or ways of working that you have adopted since being a resident of the BSR?

Definitely in terms of how I approach things, being at the BSR has given me more confidence in terms of how I approach making work, even though my work is primarily painting they come from a conceptual background and that has very much intensified here. In terms of taking ideas away there is a huge swathe of ideas that I have that I don’t have time to address here. I expect the processing of that will occur when I leave Rome and there is a very specific body of work which I want to make which will be specifically about my experience of certain aspects of Rome.


Damien’s work will be exhibited alongside the other six resident artists in the June Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 18 June until Saturday 25 June 2016, closed Sundays.

Photo by Antonio Palmieri, interview conducted by Katherine Paines.

June Mostra 2016/ Meet the artists … David Ryan

Over the next few days we will be introducing you in turn to our seven resident artists who will be exhibiting in the June Mostra on Friday 17 June. With just over a week to go until opening night we joined David Ryan in his studio to find out more about him and his work.

David Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

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David Ryan’s work explores formal relationships through abstraction. These forms are always seen as in dialogue. In this way the paintings aim to find a way of embedding certain contradictions – between private and social, inner and outer, and autonomous and referential. The current paintings explore variations on Giacomo Balla’s work Insidie di Guerra. In this context, the language of Futurist dynamism is broken up, re-staged and slowed down. They reflect on the projections of Futurism – now being the past’s conception of the future and operating rather like an archaeological fragmented artefact or inscription.

Your work takes inspiration from the Italian artist Giacomo Balla. What is it about his work that you find so interesting?

Balla interests me for several reasons, I think he’s of that generation of artists who were trying to figure out what painting could do. The futurists to whom he belonged for a while were trying to do something impossible in painting, by attempting to create a process of motion, or paintings representing motion. After the experimentation with that, his work changes. What I’m particularly interested in is the short phase from 1915 to 1923. In this period his work moves to not being so interested in representing motion as much as he was in the futurist period, he becomes more abstract. His paintings also become more of an exploration of space. They try to figure out what pictorial space can do; flatness, depth.

In Balla we get a sense of a rhythm of a composition, and I am interested in looking at that. I think a lot of modernist work, like minimalism, tries to go against the idea of composition and uses the neutral spaces of the grid or the monochrome. I like looking at the idea of how one might approach composition again. Balla is a key person that I wanted to look at in relation to this.

Some of Balla’s work is in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, which you have visited, but have you found other artists that have interested you or surprised you in any way?

One of the great things about being at the BSR and being close to the art galleries and museums here is that I can research other paintings and painters that I wouldn’t normally be able to access, artists like Alberto Magnelli, Emiliio Vedova, Enrico Prampolini, among others. It’s very interesting to look at their work and how that particular generation of Italian painters who, in the wake of futurism and in between the World Wars, were trying to do something else with space and composition. As we speak, just this evening I’m going to an archive of an abstract painter, Giulio Turcato. He’s not someone whose work I know very well, but it is typical of the opportunities given to award-holders here at the BSR that this spontaneous trip to a unique archive in the artist’s studio and apartment was offered to me.

Have you found your work has changed from what you were working on before coming to the BSR? Are the set of paintings you have created for the upcoming mostra similar to the type of work you normally make?

I think there has been a change, there is a fluidity in the space, and I see these current paintings as a set of variations on a piece by Balla. There is certainly a musical sense of making variations from something. It’s definitely been an interesting key to thinking about this idea of space and temporality within painting – which re-connects with Balla. But also within this set of variations I wanted to take the paintings apart, to formally dismantle and reassemble the form in some way.

The other influence for me is more present within a set of larger paintings I made for the mostra at the Accademia di Romania in Roma, they are slightly different, slightly more formal in one sense. The larger paintings have to be more constructed, and have a relation to more architectural spaces such as wall decorations, mosaics, tiles etc., which, of course, I have experienced in Rome.

Has the gallery space that you will be exhibiting in within the BSR influenced your work?

Not so much to be honest, I had in mind already the idea of producing these smaller canvases, and it has been very liberating. It is less of a construction and things can happen quite differently within the work of this scale.  Both the mark-making and the viewing situation are framed differently by this very small scale. Yet grouped together they become much more expansive and about a kind of comparative looking.

I have been looking at the patina of things in Rome. Particularly the frescoes I have also been looking at the Etruscan art at Villa Giulia. The ceramics and frescoes are amazing.  Wall paintings are always scarred by time, and this has made me want to intervene in the surface of my paintings more. Sometimes I make a print of one painting and print it onto another, the surface gets disturbed. This has the effect of slowing down gestures, of creating surfaces that are at odds with each other.

What has been the most interesting thing about your residency at the BSR?

I think it’s been the conversations, with other people from different disciplines, it’s clarified certain things. I am very interested in Classical history, as well as the various histories of Rome, and being able to have those conversations has really helped. To bounce ideas off people, for them to come into the studio and make comments that I hadn’t thought of creates a very creative environment, which is particularly good for an intense residency like this.


David’s work will be exhibited alongside the other six resident artists in the June Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 18 June until Saturday 25 June 2016, closed Sundays.

Photo by Antonio Palmieri, interview conducted by Katherine Paines

A look back at the March Mostra 2016

Just in case you weren’t able to attend the March Mostra showing works produced by our six resident artists from January to March, we have compiled our favourites from the official photographs of the exhibition. (Photographer: Roberto Apa). You can read the individual blog published about each of the artists by clicking on that artist’s name.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the kind support and generosity of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Australia Council for the Arts, Conseil des Arts et des Lettres Québec, The Incorporated Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Scholarships and The Linbury Trust.

Our June Mostra will be taking place on Friday 17 June.

Main gallery viewGallery installation view

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_APA5474 copiaFoyer installation view

 

Anne Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

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Anne Ryan, left to right: Io Saturnalia, acrylic on card, dimensions variable
Untitled (Dérive), watercolour on paper, dimensions variable

 

Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting)

Ross Taylor, left to right: Box of teeth, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 130 x 110 cm
The Bony Labyrinth, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 120 x 150 cm,
Tanaquai, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 39 x 30 cm
Bad blood and eggy piss, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 27 x 40 cm
Big ginger son, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 45 x 60 cm

 

Damien Duffy (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow)

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Damien Cropped

Damien Duffy, Sea Ghost Audit, acrylic on canvas, 300 x 230 cm

 

Michelle Ussher (Australia Council Resident)

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Michelle Ussher, left to right: Biatches, oil on linen, 65 x 80 cm
Porn classic with middle-aged brunette, oil on linen, 50.5 x 40 cm

 

Jonas St. Michael (Québec Resident)

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JOnas Cropped

Jonas St. Michael, Untitled, photographic print, 180 x 150 cm (x2)

 

Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture)

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Rachel Adams, Heritage Work 1 and 2, tie-dyed cotton, timber, t-shirt yarn, zinc brackets and steel tube, 50 x 50 x 85 cm

‘a magnificently wrought picture…a most pious image’

On 7 March 2016, Dr Gabriele Finaldi (Director, National Gallery, London) gave a talk entitled Rogier van der Weyden and the encounter between faith and art as part of our BSR at the British Academy lecture series.

Rogier van der WeydenSaint Luke drawing the Virgin, c. 1435-40Oil on panel, 137.5 x 110.8 cmBoston, Museum of Fine Arts

Rogier van der Weyden, St Luke Drawing the Virgin, c. 1435-40, oil on panel, 137.5 x 110.8 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

‘As part of the British Academy’s season of lectures and events on faith, we were delighted to invite Dr Gabriele Finaldi, co-curator of the National Gallery’s millennium exhibition Seeing Salvation: The Image of Christ. Gabriele — then still at the Prado — kindly said yes. I was intrigued to learn that he intended to speak to us about Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–64) — the great Early Netherlandish master — but knew him well enough to be reassured there would be good reason.

Upon taking the stage on 7 March, Gabriele (now of course Director of the National Gallery) confessed that the most Italian thing about his talk would be his own name. The packed room (we were, understandably, oversubscribed) laughed. But this was not true, as he explained that the great Burgundian court painter enjoyed great fame in Italy in his lifetime. Quoting Rogier’s contemporary Cyriacus of Ancona, who had been shown the artist’s work by Leonello d’Este, we were asked to focus on his descriptions: ‘magnificently wrought’ and ‘a most pious image’. We were then helped, with these two descriptive lenses to hand, to look very closely at some of Rogier’s key paintings, and to understand why Italy was in thrall to this northern artist.

Gabriele focused our gaze first on the composition of the paintings, then on their intricate details, reminding us of both the importance of the liturgical or scriptural accuracy of what we were seeing and the artistic innovation displayed by Rogier. Our close looking at masterpieces, combined with the speaker’s words, rewarded us: the delicate metalpoint drawing of the Virgin in St Luke Drawing the Virgin (MFA, Boston); the playful Christ child in the Durán Madonna (Prado, Madrid) grabbing the book held by his mother; the intense devotional contemplation in The Magdalen Reading (National Gallery, London); and the cleverly composed liturgical narrative in The Seven Sacraments (KMSKA, Antwerp).

The Prado’s jewel, The Descent from the Cross, provided arguably the most dramatic impact. The device of compressing the scene within its compositional frame immediately lends a discomfort to the viewer, but it is the virtuosity of the finish and the emotion of each figure which help convey such a vivid sense of pathos. The final image in Gabriele’s talk was the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John (Escorial, Madrid), possibly the artist’s final work, which is not only a stunning painting but also a marvel of careful conservation.

Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross, before 1443, oil on panel, 220.5 x 259.5 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado, deposited by the Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid.

Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross, before 1443, oil on panel, 220.5 x 259.5 cm,
Museo Nacional del Prado, deposited by the Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid.

The BSR has a proud tradition of scholarship on the relationship between northern European culture and Italy, and this paper was a perfect complement to the careful scholarship of, for instance, Dr Sue Russell (BSR Assistant Director) on Herman van Swanevelt, or Austėja Mackelaitė (Rome Scholar 2014-15) on Marten van Heemskerck — and we could list many more. The lecture encouraged us to look closely and to think about what we were seeing, how it reflected contemporary religious belief and in what ways it might have influenced later artists. In viewing these magnificently wrought pictures, these most pious images, we were connected with the most universal emotions, with humanity itself.  It was a triumphant occasion and a worthy contribution to the BA’s series.’

Rogier van der Weyden, The Crucifixion, c. 1457-64, oil on panel, 323.5 x 192 cm, Patrimonio Nacional, Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial, Madrid.

Rogier van der Weyden, Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John, c. 1457-64, oil on panel, 323.5 x 192 cm, Patrimonio Nacional, Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial, Madrid.

Elizabeth Rabineau (Development Director)

 

March Mostra 2016/ Meet the artists… Rachel Adams

Our sixth and final interview for the March Mostra on Friday 18 March is Rachel Adams. Rachel talks in the below interview about the progression of her work over the last six months of living in Rome and how excited she is about the upcoming mostra.

Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture)

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Rachel Adams’ practice draws on a wide array of influences ranging from 1930s interior design to neolithic tools, classical sculpture and science fiction props. Her objects combine a variety of DIY methods, such as tie-dye and macramé, with contemporary techniques like laser cutting and digital printing. These works aim to highlight contradictions in both our perceived notions of history and the hierarchical structures of art and design.

Within your first three months here you created your curtain piece for the mostra which worked really well within the space of the Open Studio. Has the fact that this mostra is a shared gallery space changed the way you have approached your work?

Definitely, because I know that it is a shared gallery space my work can’t be site specific in the way that the curtain I made was. That piece was created for my studio window, so it had to be a particular scale; the window dictated a lot of the decision making. For the first mostra it was really good for me to have that singular idea, whereas this time I have been making things in the studio the same way I would work in my studio in the UK.

It took me quite a long while to work out how to make work here: you need time to be able to get used to your materials and tools. So the work I have made for this exhibition is the first time I’ve made work in the way I do at home.

For this exhibition I have made a pair of chairs. They are based on chairs that I saw at the Villa Borghese museum, the chairs that you’re not allowed to sit on. They are also influenced by a post-modern Italian design particularly the work of Nathalie Du Pasquier. Du Pasquier was one of the founding members of Memphis and she made these really incredible chairs. I have been looking at her work a lot, specifically how pattern covers her designs for furniture, and I’ve been really influenced by it. Another thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is the book fold marble; where you get a symmetrical pattern but with an irregular element. I’ve been using that idea when I create my dyed textures for these works as well.

One of the things Ross [Taylor, Abbey Scholar in Painting] has said about being at the BSR for six months is that he feels that Rome is influencing his work for this mostra in a more obvious way than it did for the last one. Do you feel you agree with this?

I think it could be, I always need hindsight to tell that sort of thing. The curtain was definitely very influenced by Rome and the marble in the churches. I was also using a new technique – it was the first piece I had managed to make using that. I think I have got more comfortable with Rome, and adding it back in to what I was doing before. With my pieces for this mostra I wanted it to be quite alien looking, referencing science fiction – that’s why I’m going to have these metal brackets on the work so they have this hard/soft mechanical/organic thing going on. I also think Rome has allowed me to use Classicism again, I had partly rejected it recently even though it was very much present in my older work.

You’ve mentioned Classicism. Do you think that that is the time period you have referenced the most?

In Rome there is this feeling of the piling up of different time periods within one space. I hope that is something that will become more apparent in my work. The way that things are layered is definitely interesting. One thing that has been really useful for me to see are all these Palazzi where you get a chair next to a sculpture, with a wall painting, and fake marble, and a gold frame. It is so over the top, which has allowed me to think that I can get away with using a mixture of techniques: tie-dye and macramé, one pattern upon another pattern. Seeing this has given me the confidence to go very bold in my art rather than feeling like I have to make things more muted or subtle.

Finally, are you looking forward to the show?

Yes definitely. What is really exciting is having been in the other artists’ studios I can see there is a very clear and intense use of colour. That’s going to come out really clearly in the show and look very exciting and intense in the gallery space.


Rachel’s work will be exhibited alongside the other five resident artists in the March Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 19 March until Friday 25 March 2016 (closed Sunday).

Photo by Antonio Palmieri

March Mostra 2016/ Meet the artists… Michelle Ussher

Over the next few days we will be introducing you in turn to the six resident artists who will be exhibiting in the March Mostra on Friday 18 March. Today we spoke to Michelle Ussher about her work.

Michelle Ussher (Australia Council Resident)

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Michelle Ussher’s work is motivated by an ongoing interest in how an image, form or sound can communicate the subjective and conditional nature of perception. With a preference for oil painting, ceramics and opera her practice is concerned with reorganising the symbolic order of ‘things’, which offers a new perspective to their re-imagining and transformation. Images and narratives transcending time inform the work, such as contemporary reiterations of historic representations of intimacy, and symbolic representations of the female and sexuality.

Sound scape in particular – what inspired to do sound rather than a visual piece?

The sound piece (Nocturne) Delphine!…are you there? Was made at the beginning of my residency, for the exhibition The Green Ray at Wilkinson Gallery in London curated by Andrew Hunt. The Green Ray is a film by Eric Rohmer based on the Jules Verne book by the same name. I knew the film really well as I’ve watched a lot of Rohmer films for their dialogue as they’re usually about women, and I write stories to create the narratives and images in my work.

Looking at the film and the book it became apparent the two female protagonists are quite different. You assume the nineteenth-century fictional character Helena would be less liberated than Delphine from the 1980s film, yet this wasn’t the case.

The Green Ray as an idea is an actual scientific phenomenon, turned into a romantic notion that both the author and film director projected onto the female protagonists. The idea is that if you watch the sunset with your lover, and see the last ray of light, which is green, you will have a vision of your destiny with this person.

Verne’s protagonist, Helena uses the notion of the green ray and the pursuit of it, to defer marrying a suitor – in a similar way that Penelope, Ulysses’ wife, puts off her potential suitors by unpicking her tapestry each night. When the opportunity arises to finally see the green ray, Helena is in a cave getting off with her new lover, as she can find love without it.

Rohmer’s Delphine is the opposite, she is possessed by the green ray, and all romantic notions such as séances, star signs, and synchronicity. Rohmer paints her as pathetic, lost, in search of love to solve all her problems. This really annoyed me, and gave me the idea of creating a new dialogue between Helena and Delphine exploring contemporary feminine desire, in the form of a spatial séance in sound. In the sound piece Delphine contacts Helena to talk about boys and sex, just like any two girls today. The actual transcript for the dialogue is taken from my WhatsApp conversations with a friend discussing sexual adventures from Tinder and Grindr. Working with the composer Huw Hallam, the text was divided into parts representing stages of falling in love, based on texts I had read by Adam Phillips and Darian Leader. The dialogue fell under different categories titled projection, objectification, sex and emotion. The sound piece begins with the projection stage, moving to objectification and ends in a verbal and sonic mess of sex and emotions. Each stage is punctuated by varying shades of green, and the calling out of their names as if they are different men.

The sexual element that you mentioned within the women’s dialogue – does that also appear in your paintings?

Yes, my ideas for paintings at the moment come from the same narratives: from films, novels and myths, and thinking about why and how certain ideas, often about women, have been projected in particular ways – how I can be playful with these perspectives. There are certain narratives you can follow from Greek to Roman to Christianity right up to contemporary cinema. I revise these narratives, create new ones to make fun of them, and find a new position to see them differently. Most of my work is concerned with romance, intimacy, and sex. Each body of work has its own colour palette, using a selection from Josef Albers series Homage to the Square. I like the idea of taking the work of a male modernist artist and making it my own, claiming a part of painting history for myself and female artists. The Green Ray works were both made as dedications to two Polish female artists, Agneizka Brezanska and Paulina Olowska, and the piano piece and title for (Nocturne) Delphine!…are you there? Is from Nocturne in B-Flat Major by Maria Szymanowska, a female Polish composer.

Since I arrived at the BSR I’ve been reading Julia Kristeva’s book The Severed Head which looks at representations of the severed head through painting. After reading her essay about Medusa, I began researching the Roman version of the myth, and looking at how she is represented in painting, sculpture and fountains. She is depicted as an ugly dangerous woman, with brave men cutting her head off. She’s symbolic of female genitalia, and the severing of her head could be understood as female castration. I started thinking about her curse, one based on female jealousy, where the sight of her would turn you to stone. If the focus of the curse is shifted to Medusa’s perspective it becomes very sad, as it means she can never look at anyone she loves. Greek depictions of her seem more complex, as a woman so beautiful she is terrifying.

A marble fountain depicting her was named The origin of coral which refers to the idea of hair turning hard, to stone. The title reminded me of Courbet’s painting The origin of the world, depicting a lovers point of view of female genitalia. The same view is a very common angle used in contemporary pornography, with much less sensuality. Depictions of Medusa often have her in a frozen state of screaming, mouth agape, not dissimilar to an erotic expression of a woman in orgasmic climax. From this I’ve begun thinking about the connection of women’s pleasure and male fear. I’ve been looking at a lot of pornography, how female pleasure is represented for heterosexual men, and what it might look like without the male gaze, if it was for the mirror, the object that allows Medusa to look at others, with intimacy, for her own pleasure.

Do you think there is an element of being in Rome, which has influenced your work or are these ideas that you came to the BSR with?

I came with the idea of knowing I wanted to research narratives that transitioned from Greek to Roman myths. I knew I needed to physically be in Rome, where contemporary reiterations of these narratives co-exists with their historical ones, and see if I could find something about how they have morphed into the present that could offer something to my work which I couldn’t gain from afar. I didn’t know that I was going to work on Medusa, that happened when I was reading the book and looking at art here.

What’s great is that this work, started at the BSR, will continue, it won’t just be something I look at in these three months. I’m sure there will be a sound piece that comes out of it, they usually come later, and I’ve had more ideas for paintings already.


Michelle’s work will be exhibited alongside the other five resident artists in the March Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 19 March until Friday 25 March 2016.

Photo by Antonio Palmieri