The painter Alexander Paulus works in the grotesque, visualizing the ecstatic realm of human excess; in his disturbing images, desires of the flesh are celebrated as both revolting and magnetic. In the Primitivist style of Paul Gauguin and Paul Klee, the artist weaves viscerally-charged narratives that center around the erotic self. Through Paulus’s masterly, globular brushstrokes, the human body becomes a site of lust, gluttony, and a disgusting brand of pride.
Here, the allure and seductive powers of the flesh veer into excess and are thusly robbed of their beauty; a painting titled Blond haired blue eyed beauty imagines the female embodiment of Western beauty ideals as a rounded, egg-shaped monster, her ravenous, gummy open mouth revealing gnawing teeth. Similarly, in a piece titled Bette Davis eyes, the artist reinterprets the famed Kim Carnes song; in his rendition, the teasing seductress has an absurd about of tiny, beady eyes, and she takes the form of Queen Elizabeth I, a historical figure renowned for her spurning of male suiters.
Within Paulus’s intentionally crudely-rendered paintings lies a harsh indictment of modern culture. The works, dripping with satire, lay bare society’s worshipful treatment of sexual satisfaction; Crowing glory hole shows a roughly drawn anus adorned with a primitive crown, and Mount blue balls elevates thirsty and desirous phallus and testicles, complete with an ironic smiley face, to awesome level of the tallest natural peak. In Just the tip, thick, messy brushstrokes are also equated with the phallus and sexual desire left unquenched. In Paulus’s expertly seen world, the beautiful is merely an illusion, masking our basest desires. Take a look.