In Uncategorized on November 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm

ImageNudes are interesting to do, but they aren’t exactly a preoccupation of mine. It may seem counter-intuitive to what is assumed of artists, given the constant portrayal of male artists as temperamental sex-obsessed individuals only a few steps removed from common definitions of a pervert. My friends are often surprised when I tell them I only paint nude figures when I can’t find an excuse to keep them clothed. And I truly work very hard to avoid including nudes in my works. Why? you may ask, well, it makes it easier to exhibit work in the South, which is filled with galleries that are very concerned about anything that isn’t reduced to the sensibilities of children. (I could go on to mention that I don’t think parents with children ought to believe everything in art has to take the fact they have children in consideration when exhibiting anything.) 

Another is, I’m not so willing to deal with having to ask models to pose nude these days. Which is actually ironic in a way, because, unlike when I started out painting way back in the 90’s, it was significantly much more difficult to recruit models to pose nude than today. In fact, there are several models that volunteer to pose nude even before I consider whether a particular painting needs a nude. And while one might think, I surely would take advantage of every opportunity to produce a nude, the fact is, I don’t.

Each painting follows a narrative stream with a visual language familiar to symbolic themes typically dealing with tableau conforming to concepts articulating modes of perception, psychology and degrees of philosophy. Many narrative themes have very little to do with sexuality, however when nudes are necessary, I tend to paint the figure to indicate observed conflicts between what Americans have been socialized to believe in terms of equating the body with only sexual objectification (you can thank generations of media for that) while also placing the figure within a context that challenges those associations, thereby providing a conflicting perceptions.

 Yet, as an artist, it is important to draw and paint the nude, and for those daring to dabble in realism, frequently. If for no better reason than acquiring a well-rounded grounding in human anatomy, perspective and of course accurate proportion. Historically, only artists with a mastery of the nude figure was considered true artists because unlike several portrait painters of the academic period, there was always a question of exactly how legitimate their skills were when most of their figures was dressed. And while the concern for conservative presentation was an indication of refined civility to be admired, in art, there was enough leeway amid the known visual language of art to make room for admiration of technical skills for which accuracy of the nude figure was also admired.

These days, except for high academia barely relateable to common experience, much of this visual language is unknown.  Well that’s the breaks, but for those willing to remain open to another way of interpreting the figure, beyond empty commercial and socialized perceptions of exploitative sexuality and prurient objectification, the nude can be a symbol of truth in identity as well as a defiant stand against conventions of shame. There is a difference between the exposed and the revealed, one requires courage the other submission to fear.

 So when I actually produce a painting with a nude figure, it doesn’t happen without extensive considerations pertaining to a desire to communicate the best possible narrative tableau with the best visual narratives available.   


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