Yonis, Flowers and Home

Sex sells! that’s what every body in the business say. And why wouldn’t it? if we equate sex with creativity, generation and elation, then it is understandable… but We all know that our contemporary culture offers a restricted view of sex either as a tool, sometimes a weapon, or something for the weekend. Yet sex is more than porn and women (and sometimes men) selling something or selfish gratification,  but it is all about sensuality, eroticism, connection, creativity and the possibility of life.

All these reflections come after my “returning” from Colombia, and although I planned to work on a number of paintings and gathered some ideas, the truth is that the creative process is never linear, or even rational. In fact, once got home I did not get back to the studio as I envisaged… I felt as needing to reconnect with my home-house and align with myself. After all, the body flies back in a plane, but the soul travels by sea and it takes longer to get back. So I’ve spent sometime recolonising my space.. cleaning the patio and installing parasol and chairs and also clearing the studio to bring the new emotions and impressions from the journey. But as I said, instead of trying to convey the exoticism of plants and the many species I dwelled in the intense sensations and emotions of the journey.

Sketches of YOnis, Original work by Beatriz Acevedo

In this process, I became fixated with the images of “yonis”, the sanskrit word for Womb and Creativity, the symbol of Shakti, Shiva’s lover. I have been botanical illustrations for a while, and the flower is actually the womb of plants, the hold the seed and entice the pollinators to start cycle of life. Don’t ask me why, the only thing I could see were wombs, vaginas, cucas, conchas, which at the same time resembled flowers, petals-lips, pistils, pollen, ovaries, eggs, life, and the whole place was simply coloured in the most strident and bright hues.  I was happy working with acrylics: heavy acrylics Liquitex and the faithful Golden Liquid Acrylics. I also experimented with layers and tried to create volumes and shapes.

YOnis, Original work by Beatriz Acevedo. Acrylic on Cardboard

The shapes were quite defined, yet, the colours had not been separated and I thought it would be nice to “sew” the shapes. It was not a conscious decision, albeit I thought relevant in terms of sewing as a typically “femenine” chore, but also as the way in which vaginas are controlled by families, religion, institutions, government, society… so, it is all relevant.  And while doing this I found this article in one of my favorite blogs (brainpickings) that completes the reflection about Yonis. It concerns with a relative new book by Naomi Wolf which explores our cultural understanding, or rather misunderstanding, of the Vagina.  She writes:

Female sexual pleasure, rightly understood, is not just about sexuality, or just about pleasure. It serves, also, as a medium of female self-knowledge and hopefulness; female creativity and courage; female focus and initiative; female bliss and transcendence; and as medium of a sensibility that feels very much like freedom. To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.

This exploration of the vagina has been a concern of artists in contemporary practices. Perhaps the most obvious example is the groundbreaking portrait of birth by Frida Kahlo. In it, the vagina is frontally depicted in a bloody scene of delivery and birth.


My birth (Frida Kahlo)

Image respectfully borrowed from http://www.fridakahlo.org/my-birth.jsp

Some other artists such as Kira Scarlet have merged the “embroidery” with the genital imagery.

embroidered-vagaina-scarlet-tentacle-custom1Imaged respectfully borrowed from https://scarlettentacle.wordpress.com/

What emerges from Wolf’s study is the complexity of female pleasure and genitalia, where all sort of  neural, cognitive and foundational connections are linked to this delicate zone. In the book, Wolf also argues that the linear, instrumental, goal oriented form of intercourse in contemporary western society (aided in great part by the mechanics of pornography) disregard and misunderstands the sensitivity of the yoni. The study is also concerned with the problem of rape and sexual harassing, an issue still unresolved, not even in “modern societies” as demonstrated by the cited study about University of Yale’ students reclaiming the night, as a protest against the prevalence of rape and sexual harassment.

YOnis, Original work by Beatriz Acevedo. Acrylic on Cardboard


To be perfectly h0nest, I had not thought of all the ramifications of painting yonis, for me was a way to reconnect with my own creativity, stimulated by the experiences of my journey. However, i can see how this topic is central in the construction of a female and artistic identity, and as a topic of great controversy and a necessary view on new ways of feminism.




One thought on “Yonis, Flowers and Home

  1. Pingback: Experimental Making with Michael Atavar (1) | Artist and Educator

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