Liz Insogna is a New York-based artist.
The Sexuality Series has emerged from a long, winding body of work. In it, I’ve tried to explore and present not only the obvious, but also the hidden and unconscious forces at play in attraction, desire, and need. Although sexuality is a fun and powerful energy to work with, I find that I am afraid of the impressions made there. This intimate space is the deepest place we can touch and be touched, both mentally and physically. As a painter, I’m on the surface of this, breathing in and out of my medium, excavating these images.
Mind bondage is present in one sense or another in my characters. It is present in the emotional tonality of the work and in what is aroused by it. The ghosts of the memories that haunt my characters linger with them into the present. Vaguely vulnerable and slightly threatened, they don’t reveal too much. There is a sense of non-presence and non-commitment to the spaces they inhabit. These characters find themselves at a crossroads. They desire to leave their past, yet feel a responsibility to it.
Inner Triplet (New Clit) is a relatively large painting that features three different versions of the same girl. One is giving the other (and herself) new eyes; another is giving her (and herself) a new clit. I’ve gone back to forgetting in this work. Perhaps they are trying to erase original terror from the dark spot in their emotional memory. There is an ongoing tension between the desire to become what “the other” wants and needs from us as, as well as a simultaneous impulse to reject this very same urge. “The other” could be another individual or even culture itself. We adhere to the needs of the present moment and our current surroundings. At least that’s the belief system instilled in us. Pretending has become a new reality.
I think many of the erotic inclinations in this body of work are close to death. This fact increases its emotional charge. In Randies, for instance, one or all of the girls in the image are dead. Are they killing each other? Are they picking at each other’s minds? There is a violent edge associated with the initial sense of vulnerability and desire, one that both frightens and empowers the viewer. I find this fascinating.
I have a fantasy of what it would be like to be male, especially a male painter. I imagine that I’d be in control of everything. Whatever I would paint, I would own completely—even the feelings evoked by the images I made. Why are the qualities of detachment, minimalism, and evasiveness, so exciting in a man? I know most men aren’t that way really, but then why do they seem that way? Why does it turn me on to think of them that way? Imagination, arousal, and fantasy are components in a serious game of power. The male characters in most of my work are rendered invisible, hidden away.
In my new work, the women have decided to get dressed. It’s easier and safer to enter the great world of pretending and make-believe in clothes. Feigning desire can save lives. Feigning submission can save the delicate female ego from destruction. These characters are in some kind of indecisive hell. As juicy as they look, I’m not sure they really feel a thing.