Saturday 21 January 2012

Jonathan Yeo - Addendum in full

This is the addendum blog post in full - a shorter version appeared on the Aesthetic Diary Blog.

Jonathan Yeo's latest exhibition paintings hadn't lost their impact on a second viewing despite being prepared for the shocking surgical markings this time. The skin tones glow with life, enhanced by the rough surface under the paint causing minute imperfections in the flesh.

My observation regards the varying unfinished nature of the paintings. Those that are pre operation seem to be far more sketchy around the outside of the fleshy torsos. They are missing shoulders, arms and waists in contrast to the post op ones which seem to have a little more bodily detail painted in. I think this has the intriguing affect of the artist reflecting the supposed unfinished nature of the woman's body; she is more complete after her surgery and yet still not perfection.

When this was pointed out and the paintings actively compared, it immediately reminded me of the non finito technique used by Michelangelo and others in sculpture. That is to say, a block of marble is worked with the head, face or torso perfected and smoothed, where other parts of the body are only roughly outlined and then the work for whatever reason stops. The perfect, finished areas capture the viewer’s attention and contrast with the rough edges. However we know that the potential is there for the creator/artist/surgeon to take, mould and perfect should s/he want to.

This underlying tension between the two areas - the finished and unfinished - is immediately apparent. Essentially the finished part of the statue is being restrained by the unhewn marble; as it appears in these paintings. The female with her surgically enhanced perfect breasts/forehead perhaps leaves her struggling with perceived areas of dissatisfaction, thus she is bound psychologically to the surgeon and continued quest for an unachievable idealised female body.

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