The Art and Opinions of Heidi Celeghin, Aesthete

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Intersections: Panda Taxi

This is the newest painting I have completed for delivery to Forest Rain Gallery in Singapore. It is a 40 x 30 inch oil painting on canvas. In part, it is informed by James Rosenquist’s work.

Intersections: Panda Taxi is a development of my Neo-Decadent aesthetic. By bringing together two radically different elements, the work directly speaks to environmental concerns as well as cultural changes. The intersection of East and West points to globalization and further multicultural exchange, a theme that is very important to me.

Simultaneously, the taxi imposing itself into the environment of the panda relates to growing environmental concerns. As the technological human world encroaches on the wild environment, change is inevitable. This work brings that dissonance to the fore.

It is both beautiful and jarring, a paradox that directly channels the Neo-Decadent.


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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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Sketchbook Drawings

This weekend I was drawing quite a bit in my sketchbook (an old one from Zecchi’s I resurfaced from my time in Florence!).  I recently bought an illustrated version of Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock.  The illustrations are by the adored Aubrey Beardsley and, in consequence, are absolutely amazing.  I was suddenly overcome with the urge to draw bits and pieces of Beardsley’s illustrations.  Below is a photograph from one of the pages in my sketchbook.  It provides one with an idea of what Beardsley’s drawings are like and I would highly recommend getting a copy of the the illustrated poem.  A literary masterpiece combined with a visual arts masterpiece!


After Aubrey Beardsley

I also did some very quick sketches of my nephew.  Drawing children is fun because they are always moving, their proportions are different than that of adult’s, and they make the best faces!  The challenge for this was that I didn’t have an eraser so there was no room for error.


Felix : Quick Draw

And lastly, here are some sketches for a site-specific ceiling painting I have been commissioned to do.


Sketch 01

Sketch 02

Sketch 02

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What’s in a name?

As every good academic, I enjoy placing meaning in every level of my work.  This blog is no exception to that unbelievably impractical, yet momentously gratifying, method.   I see this blog not as a mode of documentation but as an art piece that is constantly in flux.  Neo-Decadent uses a global medium of communication and invites people to participate in the creation of a Paterian denial of theory, organization, and constancy.  The blog embodies the desire for constant change and the ability to endlessly expand horizons through a rhizomatic structure (for more on rhizomes read Mille Plateaux by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari).

I first used the term Neo-Decadent when working on my thesis at Cornell.  My obsession with Oscar Wilde and Aestheticism made the adoption of such a term natural to me.  The late 19th-century exerts a certain inexplicable magnetism over me and I have immersed myself in its literature and culture.  Consequently, the Decadent sensibility has found itself re-imagined in my artwork – thus, I create Neo-Decadent art.

The subtitle, “The Art and Opinions of Heidi Celeghin, Aesthete,” derives from the 18th-century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.  Sterne’s novel is a fascinating and absurd exploration of narrative and physical narrative space.  Since I play with these ideas in my artwork, it seemed appropriate to make a reference to one of my sources of inspiration.  Furthermore, the subtitle, in referencing a work of fiction, reveals the extent to which an artist’s identity is fabrication.  The artist becomes a work of art because his/her life is constantly being self-fashioned.