The Sexualized Chimera

Colour Me Dead - Chapter 4

The Sexualized Chimera - Medooza Viper 8 © 2013

Background

The Sexualized Chimera is the 4th production in the 18-part series of films, animations and prints collectively titled Colour Me Dead. All the productions in this project are based on research which is forming the basis for the in-development book Colour Me Dead: Art, Sex & Psychos.

The Sexualized Chimera surveys the considerably vast lineage of chimerical transformations and monstrous mutations which progressively shifted the depiction of Classical human form toward a queasy celebration of inhuman form. The sequence of digital prints charts this progression from entrancing gorgons to sexed-up succubi. The prints utilise the most dominant form of monstrous chimera - the monster car, as defined by artists like Ed Big Daddy Roth in the early 60s - to redraw and retool seminal Symbolist visualizations of chimera as explosions of gendered monstrosity.

Credits

Sketching, sumi-e brushwork & vector artwork - Philip Brophy
Commissioned for the Vizard Foundation Contemporary Art Project

2013

Colour Me Dead, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (Curated by Bala Starr)

The Sexualized Chimera - Andromeda Baleful Head © 2013

Overview

Against vain beliefs—religious and scientific—that the body should be defined by norms and ideals, the concept of the chimera has long fuelled desire for other possibilities. Classical Greek mythology abounds with all manner of aberrant morphology, the consequence of transgressive interaction between mortal, immortal and supernatural realms. Romantic and Symbolist paintings unleashed all that Neoclassicism repressed—namely, how beings genetically mutate and procreate. All chimera result from an unnatural birth, and in turn beget a lineage of mutated progeny. Their physical deformity was especially celebrated by nineteenth-century painters intent on bringing academy skills to visualizing the unimaginable. Under such conditions, the body is excessively sexualized, partly to eroticize the thrill of laying with such creatures, but mostly to imply how sex and gender can explode to form a non-human body.

The Sexualized Chimera evidences how the female nude could symbolize all it was hitherto presumed impossible to bear. The results form a transitional arc, where nineteenth-century realism in depicting unnatural bodies is overtaken by twentieth-century stylization in depicting natural bodies. The stagily rendered sphinx thus augurs the expressively brush-stroked artist’s muse: the former a titillating transmogrification of flashy form, the latter a repulsive prole of flesh which hides its mutative genealogy beneath its skin.

The Sexualized Chimera - Idol PVCT © 2013

Technical

The Sexualized Chimera is a suite of digital prints originating from vector drawing combined with scanned Japanese ink on paper. Each chimerical monster is a grotesque and quite vulgar literalisation of the symbolic sexing and gendering conveyed by the original paintings and artworks (12 selected from around 50 influential artworks). The illustrative process is in keeping with the overall project of 'monstrification' which typifies how the human body has been envisaged since the demise of Classical and Neoclassical waves - and especially counter to how The Enlightenment affected the visual arts with a 'humanising' agenda. Viewed this way, most populist forms of illustration are consciously vulgar as a part-reflexive/part-unconscious reaction against the illusory 'purity' of form and vision promulgated by the arts since the 18thC.

The employ of custom cars synchronises with this cultural line. The monster car originates from the Kustom Car subculture of Southern California in the early 1960s. It's a wonderful modern example of vulgar idomatic application of illustrative ideas expressed with maximal effect. The grotesqueries of key figures like Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, Von Dutch and Charles Barris celebrate how men geared an erotic appreciation of their cars into an amped-up register of 'monstrification': their cherished objects of desire became hysterical compressions of how they loved their machines, and - by an unsurprising consequence - unconsciously sexualized an imaginary union between 'man and machine'. Ed Roth's T-shirts depicting outrageous monsters driving these cars became talismans of this unique populist form of debased auto-erotica.

The Sexualized Chimera utilises the monster T-shirt model as a canvas for illustrating how this drive to sexualise the transmogrified form has its roots in the darker sexed-up spectrum of Symbolist paintings dealing with mythological chimera. The chimerical monsters are hand inked illustrations; the monster custom cars are vector drawings. The inked paperwork was scanned at 800dpi; the vector drawings were exported from Freehand at 600dpi, then combined in Photoshop as TIFFs at 600dpi.

The Sexualized Chimera - Sphinx Nitro © 2013 The Sexualized Chimera - Judith © 2013 The Sexualized Chimera - Nix FN-11+ © 2013 The Sexualized Chimera - Alice © 2013