Whoooooo’s that laaaady?
This bust is the first in Paul Komoda’s highly-anticipated “Human Pathology” series. Paul, who previously brought you this cauliflower-tastic take on the Elephant Man, recently completed this sculpture of a woman suffering from Tertiary Syphilis (more images of the sculpt here). These busts were originally commissioned from Paul by the U. S. Department of Education – one for every classroom, placed squarely atop each health teacher’s desk, to scare students into finally taking the subject matter seriously. Unfortunately, the piece came out more garish than they expected, and the Department refused the final product. Well, their loss is your gain! Castings of this fine piece, titled La Pestilencia, are available from Artist Proof Studio for $160 a pop. What a fine thing to place on top of your piano, where you can serenade it every night – or perhaps you’d want place it on your bookshelf, betwixt your most rare leather-bound medical textbooks. It could greet guests at the dinner table, or look up at visitors mournfully from your office cubicle.
I’ve been watching Paul sculpt this thing for the past couple of months, and it still gives me the willies every time I see it up close. Paul chose to photograph the bust with some some light illuminating it from below, which I feel is a mistake. The harsh tales-around-the-campfire lighting makes the face look even more monstrous than it needs to be, and fails to show the humanity and sadness that Paul so carefully instilled into its features. For this isn’t some Hollywood ghoul – it’s a real person, based on this tragic and completely NSFL photo taken in 1973 of a syphilis patient. What a piercing photo – you can tell, by the eyes, by the cheekbones, the shape of the jaw – that this was once a beautiful woman, similar in appearance, perhaps, to Winona Ryder, but ruined by an unlucky life. She could still be alive today.