We are born naked - artists either reveal or obfuscate this fact in their figurative work.
Art history is rife with the clash of morality dictating the amount of clothing a model may wear. The Sistine Chapel was repainted long after Michelangelo’s passing to conform to more conservative tastes even though scripture teaches that the last judgement strips the reunion of body and soul of all worldly accoutrements.
And so what is so scandalous about the flesh? The wars wage on today with academic twaddle challenging personal agency and social media fundamentalists still aghast at the sight of one bare nipple.
Into the fray step two of Southern California’s most interesting painters to update the nude with fresh, contemporary approaches:
Lena Moross conveys a classy juxtaposition of the naked and the dressed, blending same-sex couples in poses that uncover more about the judgmental state of the watcher than of the subject
Insinuate without depending on nostalgia, the cool brushwork here delineates our comfort level with the unclothed. No viewer who thinks or feels can evade the depth of the question these works imply.
Anna Stump has a facile brush for rendering and she pairs it with a conceptual push-pull installation for this exhibition. Behind a series of fluid yet accessible renderings, she has installed painterly washes for an all-over affect. The result is a critique of society’s debasement of our natural state, a lamentation of the 24/7 obsession with flesh that has eschewed intimacy for grandiose consumerism.
The curatorial pairing of these two is a hot and cool contrast that I hope can make us see fundamental figurative painting still possessing a charged radicallity. Artists can take advantage of concept to advance the ancient medium of painted surfaces.
And of course… the opening will have other surprises!