Life Arts

How The Painting 'Madonna In Ecstasy' Uses The Phallic Symbol In A Non-Western Positive Way

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   Madonna the singer may not like the fact that a painting named after her called Madonna In Ecstasy has the top of the head in the painting turn into a phallus, but the painter says she has nothing to worry about. Peter Reynosa has said: "Traditionally, in the West the phallus is either a derogatory thing or a thing about being oversexual, but in this painting it stands for the power of women to create life and it is a positive thing." Reynosa has done a painting that he describes as a naked woman burning in hell who is having an orgasm who we think is in ecstasy, but who actually is in agony. He describes it as an homage to the agony that is woman. He also explained how the male genitalia has been demonized in the West. "There are a lot of other cultures and even earlier cultures in Western civilization where the phallus had a positive connotation, one meaning fertility and the power to create life."
    Reynosa says the painting  is his attempt at creating a great painting of primitive African art. And he says the style of painting also borrows from Henri Matisse. "Stylistically, it is also an homage to Matisse. Yet, Matisse's paintings rarely or ever dealt with ugly or horrible things. So I like to say this is the painting Matisse would have done if he had been born a woman and been honest how the world rapes us more than anything else."
   Reynosa also mentions how the painting takes from other contemporary persons and even from an historical art piece.  "The hair belongs to Alice Walker. Those are her dreadlocks in the painting. And the nose come from Jennifer Aniston. And I got the tilt of the head and the facial expression from the artwork of Bernini's the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. But the body I got from Madonna. And I also tried to make her vagina in the painting look like our universe did when it first exploded into existence. And I did this also to show how women have the great creative power to create life."
   Asked where he got the idea of having the head turn into a phallic symbol, he said: "I stole the idea from Picasso, but unlike him I tried to make it a nonsexual thing, more like a thing that stands for the power of creating life."
   He does stress how this is not a portrait of Madonna. "I use her body in the painting, and since I use her body I named the painting after her, but it is not a portrait of her." Asked what he thinks Madonna will think of the painting, he said: "I hope she takes the whole thing as a compliment."
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