February 10 @ 10:00 am – March 16 @ 4:00 pm
Rose Lasham, Saskia van Dijk, Kiara Schaumkell and Sasha Ellis
10 February – 16 March 2024
Opening: Saturday 10 February, 2-4pm
Biomorphic Beings features artwork by Kiara Schaumkell, Rose Lasham, Sasha Ellis, and Saskia van Dijk. This exhibition explores the concept of bodily regeneration, informed by the biological form as a composition of reconstructed flesh, fluids, and cells. Through a combination of sculpture and painting the artists utilize the malleability of their mediums to reconstruct speculative bodies and delve into the cyclical nature of the human form.
By abstracting and reimagining the ways in which bodies adapt as physical forms, Biomorphic Beings expands on the transformative potential of the human form and its intricate relationship with its surrounding environment. As a collective, the artists reconsider the body through a grounded, proprioceptive lens. Examining an animalistic corporeal existence of growth, reproduction, excretion, ageing, decomposition, and regeneration.
Within these abstracted forms the artists project a sentient existence that transcends the confines of the body, allowing for a state of growth, decay, and spatial occupation.
Biomorphic Beings is the brainchild of these four recent graduates from Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. Witnessing the blossoming of their practices, they coalesced around the links in their practices. Namely, the bodily representation of human experiences, whether it is in relation to the environment, medical context, metaphysical or abstract.
Image Credit (Above) – Kiara Schaumkell: Flesh Monolith
About the Artists
This body of work explores the regenerative body and animism through the cyclical nature of the decomposition. As our body decays, it distributes and nourishes its surroundings. I have painted detritus and detritivores to show how we ultimately reconnect with the earth once we die.
The ceramic series, Epiphloedal Imaginings, fuses aspects of different beings to create new biomorphic forms. They emphasise the commonalities and blurred boundaries between humans, animals, and nature – recognising their entangled existences.
Animism is a belief that everything on earth has a vital presence and agency. Viewing the world through an animistic perspective questions common hierarchies we place on the world. It opposes assumptions that humans are separate from and superior to nature, and instead it acknowledges that we are animals. Through this lens it is believed that no being exists in isolation.
Through tactile engagements with clay and paint, I explore the reciprocal nature we have with the animate world. With death, there is a continuous web that interconnects all life.
We each possess a human body that disobeys our higher rational being as it devolves further into entropy. We are a conglomerate of living cells in a humanoid shape working to allow us to forget about our corporeal form. By dismantling and dismembering the body we are forced into a state of awareness of the fragments that make up our bodies, like the texture and colouration of skin, our organs, cells, and bones that compose us.
These two works both titled Flesh Monolith are boneless bodies, referencing the human organism without being a visual representation of a body.
I have been committed to exploring the connection between the mind and body. In many cultural contexts, women often bear a complex and tumultuous relationship with their bodies. From a societal perspective, a woman’s body remains an evolving, messy, and complicated space, which can spur on perpetual self-awareness. I have observed myself through a mirror’s reflection, often through this lens.
Mirrors hold dual symbolism, representing spiritual and psychological depth as well as vanity and narcissism. I seek to challenge this perspective by drawing from my own psychosomatic experiences.
Saskia van Dijk:
My contribution to Biomorphic Beings is a response to the tension between traditional figurative painting and contemporary reconfigurations of the body.
As the body wrinkles, dries out, loses warmth and vitality over time, simultaneously its physical state is amid a cycle of adapting. I use paint to capture this state of concurrent growth and decay, as a representation of skin that also begins to become weathered through the process of its use and its deterioration over time.
By using processes, such as sanding, to reveal each layer beneath the exterior skin of paint, it becomes a material representation of the concept, ‘skin-ego’ coined by Didier Anzieu. Here skin is a sensorial mediator between containment of the psyche and the essence of oneself that simultaneously connects our body to all that is external.
Within these paintings skin is depicted as a barrier between our inner and outer nature, using the figures to reflect our tangible reality and fluid areas to represent the intangible. By viewing skin as a form of containment, it allows us to contemplate bodily boundaries and consider our bodies in relation to one another as cocooned beings that shift through a larger cosmological system.