We reflect on the emotive topic of the human body in this Art at Home feature — a subject long depicted in traditional art.
From the feminine and sexual to the mundane and everyday, the body in art represents a connection to humankind. In this edit, we see seven contemporary artists reconceptualise the human body into abstracted, surreal or distorted figures to express their emotions and complex relationship to what the body can represent.
With a soothing palette of cream, pinks, navy and black, New Zealand-born, Australia-based artist Caroline Walls‘ paintings depict the sensual curves of the female body. In the intimate works, the private and the public self are narrated in soft, voluptuous shapes that push the boundaries of the canvas. Here, the paintings capture the female body’s strength and the multidimensionality of women’s sexuality, including gender, fertility, and motherhood.
French-born, Australia-based artist Stanislas Piechaczek captures the human body in a way that takes it out of the mundane and into the surreal. Inspired by Hollywood movies and real-world events, his characters are revealed through quirky arrangements – scuba diving with guns at the ready, a la James Bond style. However, unlike the movies, the paintings feature vivid colours – neon pink, orange, green – and a textural mark-making akin to diving under the sea.
Australian artist Veronica Cay uses her art to express ideas on the human body with its fragility and resilience. Her sensitive mark-making and gestural brushstrokes craft bodies out of form, layers of paint and abstraction creeping within the works. Through this painting style, Veronica captures the movement of her sitters, bringing the figures to life on the canvas.
Representing the human body through minimalist sculptures, Belarus-born, Australia-based artist Tatsiana Shevarenkova is inspired by mid-20th century biomorphic artists such as Jean Arp and Louise Bourgeois. Using her background in fashion and styling, the female silhouette seeps into Tatsiana’s ceramics, as does the natural wonders of her new hometown in Sydney. Soft curves are carved into clay as the artist captures movement and play – the works full of expression, their comforting abstraction rendering the human form.
French artist Annelie Vandendael uses photography to express her take on the female body – often leaving her subjects dangling in the air or poised, ready to jump. The images take on surrealist iconography; women decked out in beach gear, holding bags of fish or swimming with sharks. In a hyperreal filter, the audience is invited to question the real as Annelie portrays her comment on the representation of women in media through intriguing, luscious compositions.
In a distinctive brightly coloured oeuvre, Australian artist Katie Eraser explores the body through an abstracted lens – distorting the real and reconceptualising the imagined. Full of layers of acrylic and oil stick paints, the artist uses emotion as her inspiration, investigating lust, loss, and longing. As a result, the artworks are full of life, driving a connection between her audience and her figures.
Australian artist Abbey McCulloch’s dreamy paintings depict the sensitivity of the human body, in particular, the women around her and their resilience. A finalist in the Archibald three times, Abbey builds the image through whimsical colours, which are applied in thin layers, creating figures that gaze at us through beaming eyes. The artist has also added sculpture to her repertoire, with bright coloured forms that defy classification.