Cat Roissetter is fascinated with the human body. The Sheffield-based artist has spent the last year observing the British form, and by that, we mean newspaper clippings of footy hooligans and Brit’s abroad.
“I enjoy the relationship that these images have with historical English paintings and 19th Century British genre and satire painting,” explains Roissetter – who says she can see particular likeliness of beer-bellied, ruddy-faced punters with the characters found in the drawings and paintings of William Hogarth.
The artist has blended this wide range of photographic sources – which also includes Toby Jugs and niche pornography – in a range of drawings which make up her new solo exhibition. Titled English Filth, this series of distorted sketches represent a specific idea of English culture – “a crusted veneer of politeness that masks a festering mass of seediness and vice,” reads the press release.
Like the name, the drawings carry a distinct repulsiveness to them. Roissetter dips each of her sketchbooks in oil before working, evoking a waxy surface which allows her to create different textures and carve into the page as if it was a sculpture, not a drawing.
“I build my works from stacks and stacks of tracing paper, which I overlay and move around to form the final compositions,” says the artist. “I use and reuse again as I morph and change the drawings around. There is as much a reductive process as one as layering and building. Like a collage of my own subconscious and my own drawing ephemera.”
Throughout the exhibition, lumpy bodies can be seen tangled into orgys of scrunched up faces, lanky limbs and misshapen silhouettes. Some bodies are provisional in their form, sketched in parts with harsh graphite lines yet left blobby in parts as their bodies never quite grow to be fully-fledged.
The oil coating accentuates imperfections and deteriorations throughout, often leaving a vomit of body parts that treads the fine line between beautiful and grotesque. Sexually charged without ever feeling ‘sexy’, these bloated beings hold the power to both unsettle and entice your gaze. Beware.
‘English Filth’ by Cat Roissetter is open at The Cob Gallery until October 3.