Photographic portraits by Ukranian-born artist Nathalia Edenmont invert traditional poses and motifs to create controversial images that reveal a perverse side to desire. At first glance, Humble presents a young girl with wild hair who wears nothing but a cream colored collar. She cocks her head and engages the observer in a deep, inquisitive stare. Upon closer examination, one realizes the ornate neckpiece is made of condoms, creating an uneasy feeling that makes one wonder if the message is political. Child subjects and sadomasochistic contexts characterize much of Edenmont’s works, which often use placement and dress reminiscent of Dutch Golden Age portraiture to create haunting and disturbing, yet crisp and alluring images. Photographs like Outsider, where a woman sucks back a snake, and Revelation, which depicts a nude girl on a carousel pony, are successful because though they are thematically paradoxical, their aesthetic is without tension and appears entirely natural.
Edenmont currently lives in Stockholm and has recently expanded the props in her portraits to include grand floral arrangements. In such works as Requiem, and the particularly exquisite Flowers From Lovers, lush garden landscapes hug the bodies of stunning women with placid expressions, making direct parallels between beauty and nature. However, undertones of darkness always remain in Edenmont’s works, typically set against piercing black backgrounds. The women feel small in their floral dresses, and the observer gets the sense human that beauty will never surpass that of nature.