Erotic? Without question, the paintings of Victoria artist Elsbeth Coop are charged with a Pre-Raphaelite sensuality and passion. Beautiful? Absolutely luscious. Rodgers creates an overall impression of light and transparency with layers of paint as thin as the skin of her models with their trailing veils, folds of fabric and fluid fallen hair. But simultaneously, as critic Michael Scott put it, there is "an uneasy marriage of the beautiful and the ghastly". Twisted and manipulated into unnatural poses, naked female figures are alternately scrunched, pressed, flung or enveloped by hard spaces. They are the discarded corpses of a murderer or anatomist. In her new work, antique hand tools and medical instruments surround them on the grounds where they lie; they can be painful to look at. But increasingly, with a prolonged gaze, viewers may be able to transcend more obvious implications in the works to find a sense of inner harmony. The figures, still vulnerable and exposed to penetrating inspection, begin to appear more relaxed, to evidence glimmers of determination and will. They move from nudes in jeopardy to metaphors more human and familiar.
© Mia Johnson