The morbid and grotesque feminist art of Elif Varol Ergen
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‘Witch Mom’ (2016).
Turkish artist Elif Varol Ergen‘s paintings sometimes make me feel like I’ve accidentally chanced upon a page in her private diary which is filled with intimate descriptions of her darkest fears. It’s a bit like opening some blood-splattered horror novel and have a writhing, fanged, gelatinous-limbed creature plop from between its covers. Her paintings are sometimes that disturbing and grotesque, yet always strangely and utterly compelling.

Ergen’s mixed media pictures offer commentary on female sexuality, identity, motherhood, and sexism, through images of monstrous children, witches, rebels, and mythical goddesses. These may be the expected themes but Ergen’s approach sublimates any quotidian predictability.

There is the suggestion of torment and trauma here. Whether personal or imagined is unclear. In one painting a woman’s head is cleaved in twain revealing dozens of eyes watching, prying, and forever judging. In another, a strange, multi-breasted push-me-pull-you figure suckles guns while two small ruthless children prepare to open fire with milk-splattered handguns. In a third, young girls are punished by a rain of sperm-like snakes that fall from the sky penetrating and devouring their flesh.

Ergen describes herself as “visual artist and instructor.” She graduated in graphic design from the Fine Arts Department at Hacettepe University in 1999, before going on to study for an M.A. in the “Development of Comics in Japan and Far Eastern Cultures” in 2003, then completing a Ph.D. in “Abstract Concepts in Illustrated Children Books” at Hacettepe University in 2009. Ergen’s first paintings focussed on children and their often traumatic and abusive relationship with adults. Following the birth of her son, Ergen refocussed her attention towards motherhood and the often quite literally all-consuming relationship between mother and child, alongside the strange alienation some women feel after childbirth.

Most recently, she has created images of women and girls as witches, wiccans, and goddesses battling against the accepted censures and enforced roles of society. Here, there can be seen the influence of Japanese horror myths and the religious artwork of Albrecht Dürer. This is powerful thought-provoking art that engages both heart and mind. See more of Ergen’s work here.
‘Witch Hunt’ (2016).
‘Punishment of the Witches’ (2106).
‘The Apocalyptic Woman’ (2017).
More grotesqueries, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:36 am