This painting by Canadian artist, Heidi Taillefer, offers the viewer a sumptuous depiction of the pregnant body’s internal world. Rich images of fruit and flowers fill the woman’s form, while her baby is nourished within a floating sac of clear water. Her full breasts are glorious machines that produce and pump milk through an intricate system of faucets and tubing. Like a cross between a Duch still life painting and a Surrealist masterwork, Taillefer’s composition is lavish, detailed and luxuriant, reminding the viewer of the fertile bounty and reproductive powers intrinsic to the female body.
Taillefer describes the various meanings of this complex painting on her own website:
The painting “Venus Envy” is a work emphasizing the beauty and potency of women and motherhood. The name “Venus Envy” is a play on words of the Freudian “Penis Envy”, and implies the enviable female advantage of being the carrier of new life. With the predominance of taboos and limitations against women in so many cultures throughout the world, the piece exposes with pride and irreverence, female charaacteristics, whether beautiful or unsettling. It is an attempt to absolve women of their generally complex nature, and free them from harsh social standards foisted upon their physical, social, and spiritual selves. It also explores the sensuality of pregnancy, and the mystical and intimidating power with which it was once regarded.
Heidi Taillefer has produced prolifically over the past two decades. While symbolism, surrealism, the sublime and the sacred are integral to her work, she also explores the absurd and maintains a strong sense of humor in her creative process.