From Agata Reclaf’s Photographic Series Beautiful Beasts
If I am asked about art that I love, often I think about the wintery marble surface of Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculptures, and wonder at the feeling of an everlasting love….the sculptures have an enigmatic beauty that I see as a combination of two seemingly opposing states -the cool perfection of marble, and the visceral body.
There is the sense of a living thing, the pulse and a rush of blood felt when one observes the way the artist has rendered veins, sinews and skin. Yet, there is an icy perfection that dazzles and intrigues, a sort of delicious magic. This haptic beauty of a Spartan stone made into a living, breathing, animal being is also present in the photographic series Beautiful Beasts by Polish artist Agata Reclaf.
In Beautiful beasts, an obsidian night surrounds the silhouette of a body, obscuring with inky dark the rest of the woman’s body, showing a fragment, a section of this living being.
Agata is an editorial photographer but it seems in fact that depth of the experience of womanhood is a topic very dear to her, even in her commercial series such as Good Girls she seeks to create an encounter between the viewers of the individuality of each woman, preserving the unique beauty of each subject.
Agata says of her pared down yet sumptuously erotic photo series Beautiful Beasts:
“I have observed in commercial and advertising you can see images of women so perfect and happy that they are reduced a product. I want to show what woman’s life really consists of, eroticism is just one component. In Beautiful Beasts, I wanted to present the body –through darkness and a short line of light. The body is divided into separate pieces; they do not form a “happy or whole model.” Rather they are parts of a woman’s body. These are parts that sometimes causes pain, suffering, echo the pain of motherhood or even the bodily longing for it. The body here is also a source of great satisfaction and pleasure.
The artist’s way of seeing changed when she took a nude photography course and encountered the challenges of this genre. The subject demanded a distillation and reduction of artifice. When asked about moments of artistic transformation or milestones, she explains….
I have never been satisfied with my photos and I understood why. Before encountering the challenges of nude photography, it seems as if I only concentrated on the superficial or aesthetic side of the person who I photographed. However, when one photographs a naked body there are very limited ways to reveal emotions such as pain, suffering, calm or happiness, and this requires more of the photographer.