Tracing the Absurd: Queer Bodies of a Painted Allegory

Guo, Tony
Amundsen, Fiona
Shin, Jeena
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Master of Visual Arts
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Auckland University of Technology

This practice-led research employs representational painting to narrate a series of paradoxical allegories that reflect my lived queer experiences through an Asian body. I am interested in the philosophical notion of Absurdism—a condition that possesses qualities of being exiled from a sense of rationality. Struggling with the Westernised concept of coming-out-of-the-closet, my project positions my queerness as something that is inherently permeated by absurd qualities. Through this conceptual framing, I aim to construct a queer Absurdist language, via representational painting, that imagines narratives which juxtapose humour with discomfort, beauty with grotesqueness, and lyricism with insanity; these narratives are situated within a spectrum. I question how absurdity informs a deconstructive methodology against the binary ways of thinking that fundamentally reject queerness. Centring self-referential naked male bodies who take on different characters via my painted narratives, I explore ways to reclaim an underrepresented subjectivity of queer bodies that has been historically ostracised by a Western heteronormative masculine gaze. As my project progresses, the affective physicality of oil paint is felt in my experience of the world. Through expanded painting methods, I examine how the emotional gesture of painted marks and distorted forms on the canvas’s textural surface may accommodate a queer methodology.

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