Love Letters – Ray Caesar

Cast your minds back (I appreciate for some of you, this will be a really alien concept, as mobile phone have replaced a lot of the waiting in relationships now), to a time when you had your first love, and you had to wait for contact, be it a phone call to your parents landline, or a letter which was lovingly hand written. There was a huge sense of anticipation and longing that went along with those days. To either hear the voice of your intended or to receive a letter which might have S.W.A.L.K. (sealed with a loving kiss) on the back of the envelope definitely heightened the excitement which seems to have now been replaced with a quick text and people not really fully communicating.

Don’t misjudge me, technology has brought people together so much easier, but there is a magic which is rare now in the art of waiting.

I have written about Caesar before, albeit it was a very short article, and I didn’t really go into the detail about the artist. Looking back, I don’t even think I read about the artist as I was just so taken with his work, and it was a very early article (unbelievably I was not as wordy as I am now, when I first started this gig).

To read the bio of Caesar is possibly like taking a trip into his mind, as it is not your usual “born in 1984, studied in some fancy art school, when on to create amazing work”, rather it is a story of a boy born as a dog in 1733. Being the only child out of four who was born a dog, everyone adapted to it very quickly, and decided not to mention in company that there was a dog wearing human clothes at the dinner table.

It goes on with an explanation that intolerant neighbours encouraged the family to move from England to Toronto, which is where Caesar is now based, where attempts were made to stop him doodling infamous fascists on his stomach, but rather encouraged to draw cowboys on his toenails.

You can image how this gloriously ridiculous story continues, to a point where he can now pass as a human that makes digital art in a brick house with his wife in Toronto. There is a section which talks about his years working in the Art and Photography department of a hospital for sick children. From 1980-1997 he helped to document child abuse, psychology, surgical reconstructions and animal research in this environment. He notes that these were years of great sadness and great miracles, and I can only imagine how seeing such trauma could have affected a person over such a prolonged amount of time. Caesar notes that he still dreams about wandering the corridors of the hospital.

The surreal bio, and his work in the hospital is quite evident in his work, there is a clinical feel to the background settings, and the characters are quite often child like, even though they may be adult in their view/actions and often while female, there is a alter ego which Caesar has talked about called Harry which can give a masculine appearance to the subject, reflecting a gender variant.

Caesar has revealed that he suffers a dissociative gender disorder, which shows through the fluidity of his work, but also makes his work hold a relevance for those who suffer from the same disorder. He has spoken in interviews about how he placed all of his fears within a window within his mind, and created a world around them, and how he is just showing people his alternative world through his art – which is an amazing way to help others to understand your own views.

Caesar is possibly one of the most important representatives of the pop surrealism world, with people such as Madonna claiming he is one of her favourite artists. He uses a 3d digital software to create his fairytale pictures, which brings his work to life.

“Love Letters” doesn’t include his usual monstrously beautiful creatures, and perhaps could be considered one of his more “normal” pieces, but I love the sentiment that this picture holds.

The main focus is a young woman, clutching a letter which has been waxed sealed, she has a quiet, contemplation across her face of a person digesting the words of another which would only be important to her. She is so enthralled by the letter that she cares not for the disarray of pages around her, potentially from other letters, she has lost her hat and her skirt and scarf blow in the breeze, the background giving the impression that she is falling through clouds.

In the left hand corner, there is an image of lovers, their faces close to each other, almost as if a memory of the person she has received the letter from. Her mind bringing the union to the forefront of her mind.

This beautiful imagery, really brings up a lot of emotions for me. It reminds me of finding that perfect person, and the anticipation of either hearing from them, or seeing them again. It shows that stomach churning feeling of falling that you get in the honeymoon stage of any relationship. It has a depiction of the whimsical fascination that even the smallest detail can send you spirialing about this person that you are so besotted with.

This picture of me really captures the feelings of love of one for another, and I think it is beautiful in its execution.

If you want to see more of Caesar’s work, or to read his bio in full, you can find it here.

What do you think of “Love Letters”? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?

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