Caitlin Keogh

born 1982

Caitlin Keogh appropriates and alters the traditions of classical painting and the distinctive style of design illustration, especially the one appearing in fashion magazines from the beginning of the 20th century. She is interested in the female body as the subject of processes of depersonalization and objectification. In her canvases, she depicts it as a headless figure or detached bodily parts, simultaneously maintaining its ideal proportions. This harmony evokes associations with ancient Greek statues, which in turn allows the artist to ask questions about the position of fashion models and the place of women in the hierarchy of cultural production across centuries. Modern textile patterns and ornaments referencing organic forms are also significant elements of her paintings. Painted using pastel colours accentuated by black, graphic contours, these motifs are a direct reference to the heritage of the British Arts and Crafts Movement founded in the 19th century by William Morris, who strived to integrate art and industry. By constructing her paintings on several planes, Keogh complicates their composition. Such way of introducing ‘a painting within a painting’ problematizes and emphasizes the role of the viewer's gaze in the processes of objectification. In the painting entitled Sisters presented at the exhibition, headless, robed bodies, additionally multiplied in mirror reflection, are literally pinned down with orange pins. Here, the artist uses the method of illusionist painting. On this plane, the black string loosely intertwined through the figures serves the function of the black contour: it arranges the composition and gives an illusion of the third dimension. Moreover, the eerie impression is intensified by the fact that in the mirror we only see the reflection of one of the ‘sisters’. For Keogh, the process of creation is the constant questioning of the right to transform processes and subjects into closed forms, into objects to be looked at.

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