May 26, 2021

Is This The Beauty of War?

Stewart Russell

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AcrylicThe Birth of Beauty, 201983cm x 112cm

It was a century ago that it was wounded soldiers, rather than celebrities, getting the latest plastic surgery. The First World War saw a huge rise in the number of soldiers returning home with drastic facial injuries, this is one such soldier, William Vicarage who lost most of his jaw in the battle of Jutland. This painting captures his portrait before surgeon Harold Gillies preformed surgery using his new methods of facial reconstruction in 1917. His work marked the dawn of plastic surgery as we know it today. This piece was created as a way of challenging the concept of beauty as well as exploring the origins of modern-day beauty, which often comes from the use of plastic surgery. In this piece you are forced to make eye contact, to look past his wounds and see the beauty that lies deep within us all. The soldiers who underwent these new breakthrough procedures represented an advancement in technology that for the most part has been reduced to a privileged way to retain one’s youth. It is important to remember the sacrifices that our modern world is built on, and how our current view of beauty has its beginnings in war.