Rooted in the long-standing movements of Mannerism and Surrealism; of the Vanitas and Memento Mori, visitors will witness a juxtaposition of perceptions: the grotesque- misshapen, monstrous and twisted, with the traditional ideals of the beautiful in our society. Featuring local artists Bonnie Waugh, Rodney Wood, and Mick Strescino, regional favorites such as Jason Limon and Kate McDowell, and internationally-acclaimed artists include Gottfried Helnwein, who is known for having the most successful exhibition of a living artist in the history of the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria and the “dark and highly sensitive universe” of French artist Murielle Belin. The commonality between them all is how each artist’s approach prompts the viewer to consider mortality, the sublime, and the absurdity of life.
Following in the footsteps of such artists as Francisco Goya, Salvador Dali, and Francis Bacon, artwork showcased in Beautiful Grotesque allows viewers to explore fears of nightmarish and other-worldly concepts and creatures which express the daily horrors of life. The pillars of the grotesque and the beautiful are both current and historic. Today’s popular culture fans flock to the genre when Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino films hit box offices, and a refresher course about the aesthetic movements of Mannerism or the Vanitas and Memento Mori will leave one with wrestling with primeval fears. Featuring subjects like death, fantastic creatures, and dark forms, the exhibition explores humanity’s eternal search for a resolution to the transience of earthly pleasures and the fear of death.