CORNUCOPIA OF PASTEL IMAGES
A simple scroll through Morgane Naisse‘s instagram account, monapurplepony, leaves the viewer wondering where the artist’s reality ends and fantasy begins. Her curated feed is a pastel goth dream, dripping with cotton candy colors juxtaposed against gothic illustrated sirens. And yet, the star of Morgane’s work is not the heavy-lipped women she draws or the curious creatures that likely inhabit her sketchbook pages, but the artist herself. With her aqua hair and knack for otherworldly makeup looks, Morgane could very well be the daughter of Kat Von D and My Little Pony. She is as much a member of the world she has created as the subjects she draws, which makes her artwork all-the-more haunting. Her feed is a cornucopia of pastel images from her daily life interspersed with occasional artwork, blurring the line between the artist’s imagination and the artist’s truth. In Morgane’s world, imagination is the truth.
Hallmarks of soft grunge imagery – black hearts, inverted crosses, and baby doll collars – are motifs throughout Morgane’s work. They recall not a distant past, but the aesthetics of 2011 Tumblr blogs under a modern (that is, mid-2010s) lens. While many of the portraits are caricatures of the human and female body, others add an expressly animal twist. With exaggerated eyes and lips, there is a doll-like quality to all of Morgane’s sirens, not quite treading into the uncanny valley but nonetheless evoking a reaction of discomfort from the viewer. The resulting body of work is something of a horror story set inside a fairytale, and, at points, decidedly erotic.
Contemporary art is defined by internet artists like Morgane, a self-described “pastel babe with black blood”. As the art world continues to evolve with the advent of 21st century technology, these internet artists will be the ones penning the next chapter in art history textbooks. Pastel colors are the war paint of young people on social media, and Morgane masterfully uses them to illustrate a world not unique only to her own imagination, but to the social media generation. While drawing subjects in colors traditionally associated with childhood and innocence, Morgane proves time and time again through her illustration work that this very childhood innocence is only an illusion. The security of childhood – of pastels, of dolls, of fairytales – exists in the same sphere as sensuous sirens and bubbling mouths, the same sphere as half-human hybrids and neckless women. The illusion of security as familiarity is powerful; it cannot be ignored in the context of our times.