Today the grotesque is associated with the horrific, the repulsive, the ugly, and the distorted. Our society craves disfiguration, evidenced by deformed rubber Halloween masks, tales of monsters, both real and imaginary, and the proliferation of horrific acts by characters in film and literature. However, the grotesque once described an ornamental style of Renaissance painting that embodied not the ugly but the beautiful. In conjunction with the grotesque’s historical aesthetic, I explore contrasting ideas such as beauty/ugliness, representation/abstraction, order/disorder, and the poetic/horrific, as well as the connection between mythological hybrid beasts, character masks in contemporary films, and the tragic comedies of the Commedia dell'arte.
The symmetrical compositions of the ongoing series, Grotesque Series, echo the grotesque frescoes found within early Renaissance paintings and the Neronian grottoes. The symmetry also challenges the Vitruvian ideal of symmetry as beauty and purity. By exploiting these situations through the juxtaposition of opposites, I hope to incite ideas that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction, and between beauty and ugliness.