Bodily and Botanical
Emily Wenman, 'Viscera', oil bars on paper, 130cmx165cm, 2021
Bodily & Botanical:
Reflecting on the biomorphic shapes evident in Abstract Expressionist works, I attempt to translate the inherent connection and assimilation between botanical material and bodily forms. Alluding to botanical impressions rather than directly depicting botany, the material itself takes control over the subject matter translated. This more liberating, instinctive method of working enables sensuality and tactility to take precedence.
Much like a large oil pastel, working with oil bars enabled me to create looser, gestural strokes and renders on a larger, more freeing scale. Using oil bars to create characteristically feminine, ‘long slow voluptuous but also mechanical curves’ creates a visceral, indirectly erotic rendering of the Rehmannia flower. This process is not dissimilar to ‘Eccentric Abstraction’, whereby materiality is used to evoke meaning and feminine sensuous experience.
Emulating soft, cyclical, biomorphic forms, these concave-convex smooth mounds ignite the senses. The completed and continuous curves of the Rehmannia flower, and the act of tearing paper stimulates a near-visceral, tactile identification and relationship with form. This provokes the part of the brain which, when activated by the eye, 'experiences the strongest physical sensations'.
Materiality and Meaning
Emily Wenman, 'Auricularia Auricula-Judae', tights, foam, thread, (2021)
Considering ‘Expanded Painting’ and the sculptural realm of ‘Eccentric Abstraction’, I have produced a cluster of bulbous sculptural forms of bodily and botanical connotations using tights, foam, and string. The cluster of soft, cyclical forms of foam appear to repeat and multiply; emulating the organic growth of fungi, specifically Wood Ear, or ‘Auricularia-Judae’. This species of fungus is both fabric-like and flesh-like, reminiscent of bodily concepts and forms.
‘Auricularia-Judae’ employs heavier/opaque more obtrusive and obstructive tones. Influenced by Eva Hesse’s use of latex to convey sexual frankness and a witty pessimism, I too use materials and opaque colour that appears somewhat foreign and detached from translucent bodily empathies/comfort. This sense of the foreign combined with a bodily understanding of skin-like, bulbous forms is subtly disconcerting as I attempt to combine the intimate body with the obscure and otherworldly.