Ted Lawson’s figurative work actualizes difficult concepts of physical identity. His work both strips individuality from his subjects while simultaneously forcing character through implications of the viewer, and therefore, complicating the very meaning of identity.
For example, in his piece titled, Eve, referring to the bible’s first woman, he depicts the cycle of a mutating female figure based on her weight. In this work, Lawson juxtaposes bodies with hanging flesh riddled with cellulite against ones simply constructed of skin and bone. The piece forces the viewer to formulate his or her own opinion of which body is the correct body. Or rather, which body correlates to which type of identity. When reflecting on this piece, the viewer is faced with his or her own interpretations of the same woman. It is then that a more interesting question is posed; does this piece prove that physical appearance identifies who we are, or, does it question the importance of the body— is our physical appearance, perhaps, arbitrary to who we are? Is this woman not the same woman in each representation?
The same questions are raised in his piece The Death of Narrative. There we find a naked woman laying, as if posing for a Renaissance painting, perhaps a Venus. However, instead of being surrounded in objects, hues, and sentiments that would then create allegory, this figure is encompassed with a pastiche of plastic objects. She is not grounded in space or time. She has no history, no narrative, and therefore, no implemented meaning. When observing a subjectless subject, one cannot help but to create purpose; it is human nature to understand through vehicles of narrative and history. Thus, by placing a being in a certain trajectory of non-meaning (the artist describes his work as existential), meaning is then inevitably created due to the human brain’s need for association.
Ted Lawson’s work constantly plays with identity not only through narrative, but also through the its relation to art history. His titles are always referential, if not playful. Even in the means by which he makes his work, sculpting through digital technology, is a manipulation of the tradition of his medium. Lawson’s work is a contemporary interpretation of classic quandaries, however, perhaps his work poses more questions, rather than attempting to answer. (via Empty Kingdom)