Neo-Decadent

The Art and Opinions of Heidi Celeghin, Aesthete


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Houston Zoo – Haley and Rama

Here are the two drawings I created for the Houston Zoo Jack Hanna event.

The first is of Rama, their Clouded Leopard.  This is a 30 x 22 inch drawing done with watercolors and walnut ink.

Haley, the cougar, is a 14 x 17 inch drawing also with watercolors and walnut ink.


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Houston Zoo – Willie

Here is the second painting for my zoo work so far – Willie the Chimpanzee.  I was referencing traditional portraiture but was also informed by Gustav Klimt’s aesthetic.

This painting is in line with an aesthetic I am creating where I combine abstract design with a trompe l’oeil element, in this case the chimp. It stems from my academic background in Aestheticism and Decadence, where art, as mentioned in the preface to Henry James’ The Spoils of Poynton, ultimately triumphs over reality because of its ability to capture a perfect moment. I was also playing with conventions in portraiture, giving the Chimpanzee an almost human quality as well as a general air of intelligence.


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Houston Zoo – Kito

Here is one of the paintings destined for the Houston Zoo’s conservation gala.  Kito is one of two cheetahs living in the Zoo.

Kito, the Cheetah painting, is informed by nineteenth-century safari and Orientalist paintings. Again, with the Cheetah I am pulling from the trompe l’oeil tradition to highlight how art both re-creates and improves upon life. The obsessive creation of detail relates to a Decadent penchant for design, specifically for the creation of paradoxical space that combines sparse composition with overly-designed elements.  In art there can be a careful order or a controlled chaos that is not possible in reality.