Melissa Wilkinson


This series of paintings relates to my interest in dichotomies: obscuring and revealing, attraction and repulsion, good and evil, the past and the present. Through a tediously crafted watercolor painting practice I seek to make something strange out of the ordinary. I am deeply interested in the interaction of parts and am attracted to the tactile in an increasingly technological and dehumanized time. I appropriate imagery from 19th century naturalist illustrators such as John James Audubon, Jacques Barraband and Elizabeth Gould and pair with superficially sensual subject matter to develop a pastiche that fractures both into the surreal and suggestive. I draw from sensual imagery sourced from internet searches, bodies, fabrics, shells, gems, flowers, etc. in order to open a curio chest that examines the 21st century obsession with all things slick and hollow. The images break from their original sources into fragments, creating a complex visual experience that both irritates and seduces. I paint these images to investigate the slippery definition of both desire and corporeality.

The romantic process of painting allows me to meditate on issues of gender, identity construction and beauty. Though the paintings are initially conceived of using digital processes, they are made employing a very purist approach to watercolor. In doing so, I endeavor to uphold these painting processes while dismantling the elitism with which they are often associated.