Tuesday, 12 September 2017

there is more to woman than eroticism

Continuing on the theme of 'erotic' in (my) images.... This is an Aztec image of a decapitated, dismembered goddess. She has breasts, but you would have to concede, would you not, that the presence of breasts here is not an erotic affair....

There is more to breasts, and there is more to woman, than eroticism...

Monday, 11 September 2017

'Btw, has anyone ever asked you about the erotic nature of your artwork?'

A recent email exchange with a friend...

'By the way, has anyone asked you about the erotic nature of your artwork? The energy and vibrancy of your images is amazing, and maybe it is just me, but there are quite a few which have an erotic edge to them....?'

Erotic. Ha! I'm curious as to whether you mean only the large-breasted dancers or other things as well. I always forget that my images are likely to be read in various ways linked to sex and eroticism that are usually quite hidden from me. I'm working within an Indian aesthetic, and the Indian art that I'm influenced by is one with Indian philosophies and Indian world views. Nature goddesses with large breasts adorn temple gateways, lush creepers twining around their massive legs, animals looking out from behind their feet - I'm so used to seeing it all as one big principle really. If you see people making offerings to a large stone in India, do you say, that's erotic, because you know it's called a Shiva lingam, which is technically God's penis?

No, because you know that that, and the yoni stone of the goddess, are symbolic forms that hold layers and layers and layers of meaning, all pointing to a huge cosmic principle.

It's complicated in India though. There's also a massive theme which can only be described as a kind of divine eroticism, which runs along many tributaries of Indian tradition, particularly the most devotional approaches, and most particularly devotional approaches associated with Krishna.

A bit like Rumi and mystics from other traditions - the longing for the erotically charged other becomes subsumed into the longing for union with God; God as the beloved.... So the edges are very blurry, and I believe also really quite hard for people in our tradition to ever fully grasp.

Along with this is the fact that in India love and making love and eroticism are cheerfully described in sacred texts on how to live as just a juicy part of life to be fulsomely enjoyed. In textual descriptions of 'the four stages of life' - student, householder, forest dweller, ascetic - it's perfectly fine in stage two to make loads of money and spend the hot steamy pre-monsoon months endlessly swooning around your lover, everything dripping with moisture and longing for the cooling rains (there are bucketloads of sweaty poetry on this theme...).

Let's see... so that's:

1) Life principle; generation, birth, cycles of growing and falling away; life force, breath; human as a tiny speck in a connected universe, an outbreath of God, containing and being contained by all of nature

In other words, general fecundity of life and life forms...

2) Divine eroticism; mystical longing for union with the other; other as god; other as lover; god as lover

3) And lastly, what's wrong with some glorious fornication anyway? Love, pleasure, wonderful-smelling unguents, dusky coloured powders, tantalising jewellery, thin lines of hair to the navel 
(see https://tamsinhaggis.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-body-adorned.html   ), the curve of a hip, the languid gaze of a young lover...  All things of the world to be gloried in and experienced.

When I make my images, all of this is there, and more. And I somehow have to put up with people thinking I'm painting 'sexy ladies' or 'empowered women' etc etc. 

But that's not my concern. I make an image for myself and then I feed it to you for your imagination to play with - all beyond my control!