Born in sunny South Africa, Jessica Ballantyne moved to London in 2009 after graduating with a BA in Fine art from the University of Pretoria. Specialising in oil painting, Ballantyne creates art in a variety of mediums (such as collage, spray-paint and graphite) which all revolve around the main subject matter and passion of her work: The female body and human mind.
Jessica Ballantyne has, from an early age, been fascinated by the portrayal of subjective feeling and experience, especially in regards to the body. Her work is thus almost always figurative with a focus on the female body and transcendent experience.
Influenced by Surrealism and photography, Ballantyne creates bodies that are naked, unusual and autonomous. She combines her experience with philosophical, psychological and academic ideas about subjectivity and sexuality, with spiritual concepts like mindfulness, meditation and self-observation.
Sacred Nude is a series of eleven mixed-media drawings inspired by a mindfulness meditation practice that the artist learnt about through participating in a meditation workshop with an established neuroscientist and author. Sacred Nude is a series of works devoted to this practice of meditation, commenting not only on the intense feelings of peace and joy meditation can bring but also on the apparent struggles involved in undertaking meditation for the first time.
Sacred Nude combines the idea of the classical western nude with an uncanny twist, a distortion and doubling of bodies alongside Sacred Geometry, specifically the Flower of Life. The Flower of Life is an ancient, geometric shape made up of circles, which in this series, represents divinity, peace and the true self or subjectivity.
“I wanted to convey a sense of splitting the ‘self ’ from the ‘ego’, of a division that would not end with two separate entities, but with one. One self represented by the Flower of Life”
“As a culture we have become accustomed to looking at the female body in a particular way- that of the sexual object. I try to show a subjectivity, a presence, beneath the skin” As humans we have been bombarded with imagery of women. Unfortunately many of these images teach us to constantly view ourselves from the outside, as bodies and objects without subjectivity and presence. I rebel against this limiting portrayal of women and invite the viewer into a private, psychological space where I manipulate the physical body to speak about presence, transcending the ego and letting go of attachments to the body and mind.”
The Book mentioned at the end of the interview is Mind to Matter.