Ronald Moody was born in Jamaica, and moved to Britain during 1923. He trained and worked as a Dentist, when he decided to become a sculptor. He taught himself using clay to begin with, and then in the 1930s he began to teach himself to carve.
He was interested in the portrayal of stillness in Egyptian art, and I think that this really comes through. The eyes could be shut, or completely glazed over, but either way the figures doesn’t look conscious. His face is relaxed, and I think it spreads that calmness to us as we view. The figure doesn’t have any hands, hips or legs, and his arms are tightly secured to either side of his torso. Aesthetically, I really like the visible grain of the wood, and I think it reminds us of the very natural material that Moody worked with.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, I wanted to write about one of my favourite female artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. Mexican Artist Kahlo was not afraid to paint real experiences that women face rather than ‘lovely’ scenes of a smoothed over existence. It is easy to see how she has influenced many artists who are working today, such as Tracey Emin, particularly with their work surrounding birth, abortion and miscarriage. Kahlo was open about being bisexual, and refused to get rid of her ‘masculine’ features such as her iconic monobrow. Nowadays, I would not be surprised if she would chose to identify as non-binary. Her work serves as a great influence to me, seeing her passion painted onto canvas.
‘The Two Fridas 1939’ was one of Kahlo’s first large scale oil paintings. She took up painting whilst on bed-rest recovering from a car accident which stopped her being able to bear children. According to her website, this piece was completed after her divorce. It also reads:
This portrait shows Frida’s two different personalities. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume, with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida.
For me, the real focus of this painting are the hands, the two that are holding one another. Even though the painting shows Frida’s two personalities, it is a representation of her own inner strength to support herself through the difficult time she was going through. This is mirrored with the artery which connects both of their hearts, although ‘traditional’ Frida’s heart is broken and severed, bleeding onto her dress. I see that as Frida letting go of her heritage and traditions, perhaps brought on by her divorce.
Both figures gaze towards us with an unimpressed look, like we are not welcome to view them. There is a dark and stormy sky behind them, perhaps a metaphor for her mood and emotion at the time of the painting.
More of her work is available to see and read about on her website here.
Hans Bellmer was a German Artist, who is considered to be a Surrealist Photographer. He’s best known for making pubescent and abstract dolls. ‘The Doll 1936’ is a photograph of the second doll that he made. I find it difficult to really define the medium of this piece, whether it be sculpture or photography, as neither would exist without the other.
I find Bellmer’s work equally disturbing and fascinating. They are strangely shaped, unnaturally twisted figures which are neither true to life nor completely abstract. The dolls are recognisable as holding physical human qualities and features whilst still being grotesque. Theartstory.org describes holds an interesting description of his practice;
Hans Bellmer’s art, often in the form of dolls he called language images, served as a form of personal therapy, in which he objectified abusive relationships, explored his fantasies, and projected the essence of his desire for women and objects.