By Nichola Jane Aindow
"Philosophy is revealed not by good sense but by paradox." Giles DeLeuze
Exposed breasts and vaginas, women being looked at, women gazing out inviting the viewer to come and look, all this at first glance, that moment where visual stimulus finds a position to settle itself within the mind. But, something is different, something is wrong.
Are these pictures really about sexuality even with such content expressed? The remarkable significance noted upon viewing these portraits of Elia’s is that when face to face with this collection of naked females, a sense of the forbidden permeates through the mind as the eyes scour the bodies for some kind of answer to this unnerving feeling.
It is precisely because they are not about sexuality, in that way one would assume upon viewing such content. They become devoid of sexuality the moment you realise a discomfort; your own, at their vulnerability. A direct statement about sexuality, but working on the inverted, like a mirror opposite, the potency of sexuality is turned in on itself and instead of engaging the viewers’ potential desires it unleashes a locked door of discomfort and a sense of horror.
How? They seem to ask of us “do you really want to be looking at me?” Inside this mirror, one views asymmetry, an image not pleasant, distorted, giving only an illusion of order and symmetry. One questions not what is behind the painters’ thoughts, rather what is behind the eyes of the woman before you.
Caught in a time warp with yourself and only yourself, Elia’s pictures hypnotise by virtue of their non sexualised sexuality. You are in control as you are the one doing the looking, but the switch to feeling looked at jolts you into a moment of submissive discomfort. It is the futility of trying to gain power again over the image which is interesting, as you flip back and forth from being submissive to being masterful, over and over. Fluxes of time, as you flip back and forth with the portrait questioning you as you question it. The objects’ vulnerability enforces that the viewer come face to face with their own nakedness. Nakedness, here, is not on a physical dimension, in contrast to the blatant content of the portraits, instead the nakedness is of your own mind; desires and thoughts, illusions and disillusions unravelled, unleashed and exposed.
Owing to the paintings asking questions of the viewer and in turn the viewer asking questions of themselves, the constant mental shifting from one dimension to another means that the questions, like in philosophy are the fundamental element at work here. There is no single answer, only feeling. With no single answer, the paintings leave the viewer with not just one, but many questions.
However, upon leaving these works you will be left with at least the following to question. This here is Elia’s inscription upon the mind of the viewer: Is it those who are the vulnerable ones, or is it yourself?
© Nichola Jane Aindow 2007 London