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EXCLUSIVE: Hardcore porn part of art piece hanging at Queen's Park gallery

Last Updated Jul 15, 2015 at 9:29 pm EST

Warning: Story contains graphic content

Naked women performing fellatio and wince-inducing depictions of anal sex may be commonplace in the shadowy world of hardcore pornography. But those graphic images are leaving mouths agape and faces flushed in the light of day at a government building just steps away from the Legislative Assembly at Queen’s Park.

Upon first glance, there’s nothing off-putting about the Sacred Circle XII — a dreamy mandala-like mosaic that’s hanging in the John B. Aird Gallery as part of the 30 under 30 exhibit.

But step a bit closer and the graphic images that comprise the piece by French-Canadian artist Rosalie Maheux pop out with explicit clarity. (To see a closer view, click here)

Maheux says that’s the point. It’s meant to be beautiful from afar, but jarring up close.

“For me, it’s kind of like a feminist comment,” Maheux said. “As a woman I am using other women’s bodies in other ways than pornographic, because I use it to make a beautiful kind of circle.”

“That was my goal, to create a reaction,” the young artist said.

Sacred Circle XII has been on display for the past three weeks, but it was only after CityNews made inquires to the Minister responsible for women’s issues that the gallery began posting signs warning that the exhibit contains images intended for a mature audience.

The Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

The piece was selected for inclusion by a guest curator.

The gallery’s art director, Carla Garnet, helped narrow down the selections.  She said they weren’t aware of the pornographic images because it was selected only after viewing a small image which rendered the sex acts indiscernible.

“To tell you the truth we didn’t examine it that deeply,” Garnet admitted. “When we were hanging it, it became apparent that it had a lot of specific detail.”

Curious staffers at Queen’s Park have been popping in to the gallery to see what the buzz is all about. Their reactions range from wide-eyed shock to giddy, embarrassed laughter.

Maheux stands by her work and thinks it’s appropriate for the venue.

“I think we have to see it as more of an intellectual piece. I don’t think it’s pornographic,” she insists. “It’s more like a statement about opposition, about beautiful, ugly. It’s a duality.”

The exhibit featuring the controversial piece will be on display at the gallery for eight more days. For more info click here.