"Cosmetically Challenged Abstracts" (2004):


(Cosmetically Challenged Abstracts is still ongoing. The images shown here have come both from individual works not intended for a specific exhibition, as well as images stemming directly from Clones, Hybrids, and Techno-beasts.)


I saw an episode of the Twilight Zone when I was a kid that will never leave my consciousness. A young woman just leaving puberty was given a catalogue to choose what "number" she would become in her adulthood. Each "number" related a particular aesthetic look. This particular girl had reservations about becoming a carbon copy of all other women, but finally succumbed to social and family pressures and went through with the cosmetic procedure. She emerged "fixed" of her individuality and "imperfections".

My exploration of combining art forms, including abstraction and realism, and playing with positive and negative space, has led me to create what could be termed as abstracted hyperrealism. Minimal forms such as cubes and circles have been pushed into the third dimension using unexpected visual surface materiality, such as skin and fur, juxtaposed with flat colour fields more usually found in this tradition.

I have a fascination with genetically modified foods and materials, as well as the manipulation of the human body in the striving for aesthetic perfection. I use these ideas as my subject. The result is both eerie and disturbing. Pigs are presented in the form of easily stackable/storable blocks, and human flesh is "pushed up" and "scrutinized" in the form of dehumanized blobs.

What frightens me most about the Twilight Zone scenario above is how close it comes to the reality of the normalization of boob jobs and vaginal rejuvenation procedures for the contemporary woman. The manipulation of nature and our selves is leading humans into a both exciting and frightening era in our evolution, with many scientific, social, and moral implications. I hope to portray this uneasiness in this series of paintings.

all content © Lisa Birke 2015