Jonathan Payne’s sculptures of remixed human body parts are utterly disgusting. Warty skin and overgrown toenails, a tooth-penis-nipple hybrid, and a tongue with teeth in place of taste buds are some of the highlights of his shudder-worthy pieces. The sculptures evoke a very physical reaction in the viewer. They are extremely life-like, and so it’s easy to project your own senses into the toes and teeth, to imagine what it would feel like to have those body parts connected together. They’re anxiety inducing, but you can’t look away, they’re so horrifyingly real. If you’re wondering what they’re made of to look so realistic, Payne uses super sculpey, polymer clay, acrylic, and human hair.
Payne calls the sculptures Fleshlettes, and in his description says that he’s interested in “bizarre and fantastical surrealist characters”. Surrealism was concerned very much with the psyche, and I think Payne’s work does a good job of withdrawing and exploring some deep set insecurities with ugliness and deformation in his strange body part sculptures.
In an article on the blog Street Anatomy, it’s listed that each sculpture has a kind of name and character. The toothed tongue, for instance, is Tonya, and she’s the mother of all Fleshlettes. The eyeball is named Eileen “for obvious reasons”. This sense of humour is refreshing and also seems to suit the strange though ultimately nonthreatening characters.