Elsa Rouy presents a new series of work that continues her exploration of bodily fluids, a theme that has gripped her for some time.
While her last show focused on sexual bodily fluids, Rouy now inverts the subject matter, shifting the focus to the bodily fluids of the mother – notably the natal fluids of blood and breast milk.
Rouy’s work has always examined notions of dependency.
Here the emphasis is taken away from sexual dependency and moved towards a more poignant emotional dependency. It is work that lays bare the reality of the contemporary human condition: namely the realization that our emotional landscapes are not purely our own, that the entire canopy of personal emotional experience – from joy and happiness to sadness and anxiety – is largely indebted to others. In these works, Rouy uses the maternal/filial relationship to engage with these ideas.
Mums Milk Spilt
Do You Want to Hold Her?
Rouy’s works for this exhibition look at the societal pressures placed on mothers.
The mother must be unflappable; she must be phlegmatic; she must accomplish her tasks with a certain sprezzatura; like the Virgin Mary, the mother of mothers, she must be divine. Rouy’s mothers are the antithesis of such an idea, they’re understandably vulnerable, embattled, often frightened figures. The babies in the paintings, much like in real life, are unwittingly belligerent. They perfectly capture the intensity of the mother/child relationship, the intensity of dependence. Rouy is frank about her anxiety concerning childbirth. The distressed faces of the mothers bear all this anxiety, something which is beautifully offset by the innocence of a baby’s smile.
About the Artist
Elsa Rouy is an artist from Sittingbourne, Kent who now lives and works in London.
Currently completing her BA Hons in Painting at Camberwell College of the arts, she creates artwork that explores the female sexual gaze, delving into the sources of anxiety and pleasure. She focuses on intimate snapshot moments that become sexual between the main subject and their surroundings. She plays around with depictions of female and male genitalia, making paintings of figures with their sexual organs revealed, using these as a way to navigate anxieties that come with having, and being conscious of, a body.
The paintings also interact with themes of social illusion and trepidation, something she highlights through depictions of sexual intercourse. Her work focuses on bodily fluids such as semen, milk, urine, sweat and saliva. She’s interested in their wetness, using the imagery to focus on their involvement during sex, noting the polarisation of emotions when confronted with such fluids. Rouy notices a repulsion towards these fluids when not involved in intercourse, contrary to this, during sex the same fluids that repulse us become alluring. Her main aim is to include the viewer as a voyeuristic counterpart within an erotic scene that feels personal rather than pornographic. Ensnaring the viewer with an initial feeling of comfort, intrigue and excitement, then permeating the security with a subconscious reaction of repulsion and uneasiness.
First Chosen Charity
The Trussel Trust
The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of food banks, providing emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, as well as campaigning to end the need for food banks in the UK. Elsa Rouy has chosen to donate to the SWALE food bank in her hometown of Sittingbourne, Kent.