Raised a Catholic, and using obvious religious iconography, Liz Maw like to paint other-worldly and sublime beings. By combining the faces of celebrities or people she knows and admires with pseudo-mystical relics she glorifies them. Maw draws on many different periods and styles, mixing contemporary symbols with techniques from the Old Dutch masters, her subjects in poses akin to many Renaissance works. It is this mix of old and new; mundane and divine; hyper-realism and fantasy; sacred and profane that makes her work at once beautiful and comical. As one critic said:
“Her sleek paintwork resembles air brushing in its precision, offering a surrealism somewhere between Salvador Dali and the kind of hot-rod paintings which stretch across panel vans. Liz’s paintings are drenched with a sense of desire, beauty and power.” (source)
Her “Colleen” painting features a beautiful naked woman perched on a cloud surrounded by floating seashells and in a glowing sky illuminated by lightning. Intentionally referring to The Immaculate Conception painting, Maw manages to rework something old and accepted with a kitschy, slightly erotic spin. Talking about what is “distasteful” and what isn’t, Maw likes to challenge people’s standards. She says she doesn’t understand why some people will accept a painting of a figure with one breast covered, and others would think it to be inappropriate.
“I think that female sexuality is a very mystical thing… I don’t think that romance goes seamlessly into sex for women really. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. A lot of women disconnect romance from sex. I don’t know why that is. “
She wants to paint to encourage more warmth and softness, and less judgement. And I think one painting at a time she will.