LeQuiVive Gallery Presents:
Making Friends with the Devil
Approached as an exercise in liberation, Helen Bayly abandons the idea of polite beauty and casts her eye on primal nature and female sexuality in Making Friends with the Devil, opening Friday, September 6, 2013, at 7pm.
Baby Machine, be fruitful, mounts a challenge to historical traditions that assign the maternal as an idealized state of womanhood. In an image of exaggerated fertility, aberrantly placed crowning infants are seen pushing their way out of a woman’s chest, torso, and hips, highlighting the violence and pain inherent in childbirth. Born into This (a nod to Bukowski’s eponymous poem) dismantles the sacrosanctity of maternity as well, with a woman giving birth to a skeleton shown reaching back to tear at the mother’s hair. The artist takes a more playful tone addressing female desire with 'I love you' penis, a 30"x22" graphite drawing which spells out “I love you” in what could be typographically termed “penis font.” The fetishisticly elongated member twists and ropes itself into an elegant cursive against a background of pale petal-pink flesh tone.
Bayly unflinchingly takes on raw subject matter, expertly pairing it with a sweeter aesthetic. Bloodied animals, unraveling umbilical cords and exposed genitals are displayed in delicate pencil rendering often surrounded by tiny flower garlands and light acrylic washes. This balance allows Bayly to convey graphic imagery in an affectionate manor even when the content is darker in mood. In doing so, the works comprising Making Friends with Devil conjure Julia Kristeva’s idea of the abject, detailed as a sense of disgust which is simultaneously morbidly compelling. “By way of abjection,” Kristeva writes in Powers of Horror, “primitive societies have marked out a precise area of their culture in order to remove it from the threatening world of animals or animalism, which were imagined as representatives of sex and murder.” Societal and moral development has been aligned with the repression of primal urges and it is this repression that Bayly is set to explore.
|Get It, 22"x16.5", 2013, graphite pencil, graphite powder, color pencil and acrylic paint on paper|
From the artist:
When starting a body of work, I tend to choose subject matter very close to my personal experience. In this series, Making Friends with the Devil, I wanted to take on issues around my relationship to female sexuality. The title represents a change in what I used to see as taboo and now am finding an attraction to, embracing my human nature regardless of its moral corruption.
At a time where we as a culture consume more pornography than ever before, I felt inspired to work with some common porn themes, like female masturbation or submissive/dominate role play, to properly sift out my primal attraction versus my rational aversion. In the evolution of the human brain, we began with the basic instinctual reflexes. Currently our comprehension extends to allow the ability to remember, recall and to use stored information to inform future responses. While we may understand our behaviors more deeply, we are still fueled by instinctual reflexes, one often times in direct contradiction to the other.
Making Friends with the Devil
Opening Reception – September 06, 2013
7pm – 11pm
@ LeQuiVive Gallery
1525 Webster St Oakland, CA 94612
|At my desk, drawing|
|Drawing at my desk, working on Skinned Cow Head|
|Flipping through art for the show|
|'I love you' penis, 30"x22", 2013|
Color pencil and Acrylic paint on paper
|Framed, ready to hang|
|Posing with my fellas in the studio|
Making Friends with the Devil by Helen Bayly
Photos by Derek Macario, written press release by Jennifer Goff and video by Maria Romero. Thank you all!!