Monday, 23 September 2013

Hans Bellmer

 Sick fuck or surrealist genius? Hans Bellmer's work asks those questions leaving us to answer them. To be honest I am uncertain which box I would tick. I know this though, his work fascinates me and if it leaves unanswered those issues that puzzle then so be it. My belief is that Bellmer investigated a grey area, he explored the no go zone between where love of youth exists as it changes from pure innocence to sexual maturity and that of vile paedophillia. Bellmer examined the love of pubescent children and contrasted the stark divide of moral ethics. He raised the question,Is it wrong to see beauty in the rise of sexual awareness through maturing flesh or can it be as detached as any other aesthetic study?
All I know is that his work creates more questions than it gives answers.

 Like a rock or rap star Bellmer faces camera with face full of machismo as though looking hard is prerequisite to being highly creative. A sort of credibility appears to go with this look. Some call it street cred. It is a facial expression that fits his art perfectly. Somber, serious, meaningful and harsh. It is not that he merely stares looking slightly insecure in front of the lens, it is a pose, a deliberate act of placing distance between him and audience. It is menacing and taut and filled with a stark blank query which is the very essence of his art.

 What is it that drove Bellmer? What parental abuse, be it neglect, insufficient love from mother or a fathers dark discipline, shaped and defined him to give need to express his feelings in the way he did. Are his works visions from a dream world inhabited by physical sexual acts dominated by sado-masochism or a deep seated memory seen in childhood that plagued his mind giving rise to his need to depict women, pubescent for the most part, in such postures? 



Decades later these artworks still shock. They challenge in ways few artists today can. The subject matter reveals how insecure we are when confronted with sex in all its graphic, muddle-minded, middle class compartmentalisation.
Sex, it would seem, still has the power to upset the apple cart even though it is such a natural activity. This leaves us with the dolls. Those almost illicit depictions of young females. Is it this that has the affect of a slapped face to the system? Or is the dolls themselves? Grotesque yet life like.





Breasts angled and multiple. Coquettish faces casting come on looks over narrowed shoulders. The thin line of common decency being muddied by a girlish stare. Temptation teasing testosterone. The natural desire to penetrate, impregnate being sent confusing signals. Lusts confined to plastic and wax. The stuff on transience, of dreams perhaps?



Born in Germany if 1902. Died 24th February 1975. His biography can be found on the internet and in books and makes fascinating reading. Here I am trying to assess my reactions to this mans remarkable, challenging work that many call surrealism. Is it though? I guess it might be. It is not dissimilar to Dali's constant fear of erectile dysfunction. It confronts concerns few would go near. 
Looking at them again now I still feel uncomfortable which is precisely what I think the artist wanted.





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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

3 comments:

Aurora Hylton said...

It does draw the attention. I find the image of the pregnant doll with the vagina sewn shut disturbing. I suppose if I were to find a message in that, it would be that female sexuality is thought in Western society to be strictly for procreation and not for pleasure.

Russell C.J. Duffy said...

I think that is a very good point, one I wish I had thought of myself.

BSM said...

The photo with the sewn vagina is not by Bellmer