During the last several years, I have developed a love for figuration within the painting media. I am most interested in paint’s representational flexibility and its ability to address illusion. My work focuses on the role of pattern and design found in high fashion and the position of the female within these images.
I began using imagery that was familiar as a reference point: walking into any drugstore or Wal-mart, I would see an array of magazines displaying beautiful women in fancy garb. Although accessible, this material was not something I could relate to. Growing up in Appalachian Ohio – one of the poorest, “blue collar” areas of the country – my family was never able to afford what these magazines were telling me to buy. The women depicted in these magazines were simultaneously intriguing and repulsive.
My initial curiosity led me to question why in order to sell these clothes and accessories the models need to resemble hunchback monstrosities, robotic cyborgs, lifeless corpses, and/or sexually vulnerable contortionists. Perhaps readers don’t notice these odd messages in fashion magazines because they are captivated by the duplicitous appeal of the advertising regime. I find these unnoticed issues crucial to investigate: they are adjacent to those advice columns that profess to teach me how to become a better woman. What if I blew these images up, took them out of their original context and function, and made them more noticeable, more questionable, more worrisome, perhaps even more confrontational?
Through painting, I am furthering my investigation into this world of simultaneous allurement and grotesquery. Ornate patterning and decoration coupled with transformation and transfiguration of body parts reflect my personal struggle with this sad dichotomy. I use gold leaf and pattern work to bridge historical notions of beauty with contemporary iconography. With this work, I hope to confront our current ideology and create a scene of palpable tension in order to critique our notions of contemporary beauty.
Julie Anne Horton
Artist’s Website: http://www.julieannehorton.com