To Paint a Love Poem: In the Studio with Ambera Wellmann
By Anna Kovler
Historically, the Minotaur is always the pinnacle of violence and brute strength. In ancient Greek statues, for instance, the figure is depicted as an ominous bull’s head emerging from a muscular human torso, tense and ready for battle. In Picasso’s suite of etchings, the mythological creature is often bursting out of the frame, swollen and crazed as it devours helpless women.
Pinned to the wall of Ambera Wellmann’s studio, a small drawing of a Minotaur alternatively shows the mythic beast in a soft embrace with a voluptuous woman. The pose of the Minotaur here is not in keeping with its character. The lovers’ limbs wrap softly around each other’s bodies as her legs rest over his mighty back. Their bodies merge like two halves of a yinyang symbol, his dark furry texture contrasting her pale skin as he cradles half-moons of her flesh. His soft and vaguely rendered eyes gaze into his lover’s face as his hoof gently holds the back of her head. Bull-headed, dangerous beast transformed into careful partner.
“Picasso’s Minotaur drawings are very aggressive and hetero-masculine,” explains Wellmann, “The narrative is about the sacrificial use of women, offering them to the Minotaur to maintain peace. I wanted to explore the story from the female’s perspective, and have been working on this mutual, shared experience between both of them that is much more tender and visceral.”
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Ambera Wellmann in her Berlin Studio, 2018