“Skin is the veiling that masks, hides or enhances the layering inherent in the make-up of a human personality. We are not what we seem. What you see is not what you get. Beauty, or a perceived lack thereof, with all its unfathomable nuance, is a distraction from the truth we seek to find. Who am I? Who are you? How much can we really know of others or of ourselves? We try on the layers of self like shoes and discard them as easily, living in many skins.” Annette Bezor, 2014
Annette Bezor exposes the inscrutable nature of beauty and sexuality through her transformation of female imagery into stylised icons of the modern age. The women in her works defy simple definition. Enigmatic, mysterious and multi layered, they challenge us to scratch the surface and look a little deeper. Drawing on imagery from different cultures and eras Bezor reflects on our contemporary values associated with women and incites us to explore the connections and contradictions between beauty and power. “Beauty can be overwhelming. Those who feel threatened by it will wish to control its power over them. This gives rise to a double standard often expressed as a love/ hate relationship with the desirable subject.”
She works across a range of media, styles and techniques, masking images with layers of pattern, colour or symbols to signify the constructed identity.
“Bezor uses a range of painting techniques to support her analysis. Her ‘Entanglement’ series of paintings are typically composites of several original and appropriated images located in a contrasting, expressionistic ground. The images in the ‘Tension’ series are painted with shading to suggest three dimensional form, but also appear flat, as if the shading is stylised, represented as itself rather than used to create an illusory effect. She painted multiple versions of the one painting, addressing the issue of repetition both to challenge ideas of authenticity and to mimic the replicability of images in contemporary society. Used repeatedly and shown in groups, either as original paintings or as laser scans, these faces became symbols or motifs. She replicated them in different tones, identifying the important signifiers, and also rendering them banal — deliberately saturating the viewer with imagery to trivialise the image and so shift the meaning again. Bezor has sometimes employed the idea of the canvas as a record stained with or by the characters depicted. In some early works she used mattress ticking instead of canvas, directly referring to the bed as the site of action, and indicating that what is being recorded is the passion of the character depicted. In so doing, she moved away from perspectival construction towards layered panels of imagery that defeat the representation of depth of field and deny the viewer’s location in a space related to the action” Chris Reid, 2014
Bezor says of her work generally that it is “representative of a psychological and emotional space that people inhabit but are silent about. We all have this — a passive exterior, inside which is a Pandora’s box.”
Image of Annette Bezor in her studio courtesy The Adelaide Review.