Posts Tagged ‘Male Nude

20
Nov
12

Day 325: Dripping, by Kevin Chin, and Under the Sun by Thomas Gibbs

An amazing exhibition is currently taking place at Southbank – the 2012 Graduate Exhibition of Victorian College of the Arts’ students, which spans the entire Margaret Lawrence Gallery as well as the artists’ studios on the ground and upper levels and the outlying buildings of the college’s precinct. The exhibition visitor is well advised to set aside AT LEAST two hours to explore the exhibition spaces as well as literally hundreds upon hundreds of artworks by this year’s VCA graduate students in every conceivable media – painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, installation, and (recordings of) performance art. I am slightly deviating from my format of an artwork per day to bring a selection of images from the exhibition.

Kevin Chin Dripping

Day 325: Dripping, by Kevin Chin

Landscape backgrounds in paintings by Kevin Chin are executed in a range of soft green, yellow, red, and ochre colours. Applied against the visible grain of raw canvas, they imbue the works with an autumnal feel. The run-offs that result from the diluted pigments create an impression of lush foliage. Some of the works feature foreground mise-en-scènes, which are painted with thicker pigments and therefore appear in a sharper focus compared with the rest of the composition. Their incidental nature, at times unrelated to the landscape backgrounds, allows for multiple interpretations of the scenes. In the image illustrated above, the title of the work, Dripping (2012), is used as a clever double-entendre that can refer either to the bather emerging from the lake, or the very nature of Chin’s painting technique and pigment application.

Thomas Gibbs Under the Sun 5

Day 325 bis: Under the Sun #5, by Thomas Gibbs

The suite of paintings by Thomas Gibbs, Under the Sun (2012), features male nudes within landscape setting. However, their fractured and contorted bodies indicate that we are witnessing something more sinister than a classic interpretation of the genre or a romantic communion with nature. The light, dusky tones of the paintings involuntarily bring to mind works by Fiona Lowry, whose seemingly innocuous loosely painted pastel-coloured studies of figures and landscapes stem from stories of crimes and homicide. A similar mood seems to pervade Gibbs’s paintings as we are witnessing men undergoing – or in the aftermath of – an intense physical and emotional pain. This feeling is further underscored by the fragility and vulnerability of their bodies, which strongly contrasts with the prevalent masculine archetypes.

Works by Kevin Chin and Thomas Gibbs are on view at the Victorian College of the Arts until November 25.

http://www.kevinchin.com.au/

http://thomasgibbsart.com/

http://www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/gallery

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries]

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14
Nov
12

Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape, by James Gleeson

Male Nude in Psychoscape (Variation on the Titan Theme VII), by James Gleeson

Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape (Variation on the Titan Theme VII), by James Gleeson

James Gleeson’s series of miniature paintings, mostly not exceeding 6 inches, are believed to have been created during the 1960s and 1970s, when Gleeson worked full-time as an advisor for the future collection of the National Gallery of Australia and as an art critic for a number of leading Australian periodicals. The weekends were the only time Gleeson had left for painting, and his goal was to create artworks that would take him no longer than a single weekend to complete.

Works produced during this time include paintings, works on paper, and mixed media collages. They all feature a prominent male nude or two, at the height of their physical perfection. The paintings are frequently referred to as ‘Frankies’, based on the belief that the male nudes represent Gleeson’s life-long partner, Frank O’Keefe. We shall not dispute these claims, but the comparison between the paintings and collages of the period show that Gleeson also richly drew upon the inspiration provided by fitness magazines of the era that featured the ubiquitous ‘American beefcake.’

The nudes are invariably placed against imagined, phantasmagorical backgrounds, usually referred to as psychoscapes. Their surrealism provides an important link between Gleeson’s early works of the 1940s and 1950s, and his much later grandiloquent large-scale visions of the 1980s and 1990s.

The subject matter of these works featuring prominent male nudes appears confronting to some. This is a pity, as it stops so many from admiring Gleeson’s meticulous painting technique and attention to detail, as well dexterity in managing complex pigments and colour schemes that make surfaces of these miniature paintings sparkle like precious, multi-coloured, richly enamelled jewels.

Variation on the Titan Theme VII James Gleeson (1915-2008) features in Deutscher and Hackett’s forthcoming auction of Important Australian and International Art (lot 61, est AUD $4,000-6,000), taking place in Melbourne on November 28.

http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/

http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/auctions/catalogues/123456905

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

12
Nov
12

Day 317: Untitled, from Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

gregory-crewdson-untitled-the-father-beneath-the-roses-2007

Day 317: Untitled, from Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

Untitled (2007) is among the most striking, challenging, and psychologically complex works from Crewdson’s Beneath the Roses series. At first glance, there is nothing amiss about the old man sitting in his lounge room, lit by the glare of the TV set on which his stare is transfixed. The apartment is worse for wear, but so is the old chap. The closet door opens up to reveal smart jackets and travelling suitcases suggesting that in the past he may have been a travelling businessman or a well-to-do man. But the bottles of pills and ointments on the trestle-table tell us that this is all in the past, and today he is but a sickly old man who hardly bothers putting clothes on, let along emerging from the cosy comfort of his shabby apartment.

Bright light picks out a reasonably well-appointed kitchen in the background. A simple meal of pasta and vegetables is being prepared by a lady in humble clothes and sensible flat shoes; her hair gathered in a tight bun. At first the woman appears as a ubiquitous maid, the luxury of the suburban middle-classes. But when the eye pans to the right, towards the dining table, one notices dinner setting for two. An unsettling thought occurs – as always in Crewdson’s pictures: are we indeed looking at an old man who requires constant care, but who has good heart and therefore insists that his maid dines with him. Or is there a more menacing undertone in this narrative: is this his daughter, who has become a voluntary slave to her father’s ailments? Or is his purple bathrobe carelessly thrown over the near-naked body that still suggests virility points towards much darker undertones to the relationship between the two?

Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled, from Beneath the Roses series, was included in the photographer’s solo exhibition, In a Lonely Place, at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.

http://www.ccp.org.au/

http://www.gagosian.com/artists/gregory-crewdson

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

08
Nov
12

Day 313: Falling Towards the Sky, by Becc Orszag

Becc Orszag Falling Towards the Sky 2012

Day 313: Falling Towards the Sky, by Becc Orszag

Becc Orszag’s large-scale charcoal drawing, Falling Towards the Sky (2012) was a stand-out work at the recent NotFair, a satellite exhibition of the Melbourne Art Fair 2012. It was a pleasure seeing it again at Dianne Tanzer Gallery, accompanied by a small display of other drawings by this undoubtedly gifted and highly imaginative artist.

Orszag’s athletic figure twirls in an ambiguous space, and involuntarily calls to mind Ring Gymnast I (1911) by the Swedish artist Eugene Jansson (1862-1915) in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria [http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/col/work/4081], who is similarly engaged in a seemingly impossible acrobatic mid-air feat.

Nude but for small pair of briefs, his rippling musculature, flailing arms, and inward-pointing toes relate the acrobat’s total concentration on the correct execution of his perilous routine. The strategic placement of his figure almost three quarters up from the lower margin of the drawing imparts the feeling of weightlessness and of the speed of his breathtaking ascent. The ghost-like rocky outcrops in the background of the drawing simultaneously remind the viewer of the increasingly perilous distance from the ground of this gravity-defying latter-day wingless Icarus.

http://diannetanzergallery.net.au/Becc-Orszag

http://beccorszag.blogspot.com.au/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

04
Nov
12

Day 309: Adventure, by Norman Lindsay

Norman Lindsay Adventure

Day 309: Adventure, by Norman Lindsay

Adventure (1944) by Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) is remarkable inasmuch as it is one of the very few works to feature a male nude. Leaning over from a rearing horse towards a naked female with golden tresses, he is a phallic vortex around which the movement within the picture is created. Lindsay balanced our hero’s nudity against the prominent female nudes, for which the artist is better known. They display his aesthetic preference for ‘well-endowed’ and thick-thigh maidens that are at odds with the prevalent waif-like ideal of his era. When a model complained about her appearance in one of his sketches that was clearly at odds with her own bodily proportions, the artist is believed to have quipped: “You’ll grow into them, my dear.”

Lindsay first and foremost was a graphic and watercolour artist, and perhaps among the best practitioners of the medium to come out of Australia. Painting in oils only came to him much later in life, and by his own admission he did not believe he was as proficient in oils as he was in his preferred mediums on watercolour or ink. He expressed his own insecurities by releasing only a small portion of his oil paintings onto the market, bequeathing the remainder to family and friends, and leaving a number of large-scale canvasses to the University of Melbourne.

However, to us his handling of pigments and management of the complex yet balanced colour palette appear superb; and the total irreverence with which he mixes styles and fashions of various eras is rather admirable. In this painting alone, the classical nudity of the chivalrous hero and the maidens in the foreground sits at ease with Baroque, Victorian, and Edwardian dresses worn by the surrounding fully-clothed ladies.

Norman Lindsay’s Adventure features at Bonham’s forthcoming 53-lot auction of Important Australian Art, which takes place in Sydney on 19 November 2012, and also includes works by Donald Friend, John Perceval, Frederick McCubbin, Rupert Bunny, John Peter Russell, and numerous others.

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20407/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

31
Oct
12

Day 305: Them and Us, by Abdul Abdullah

Abdul Abdullah 2011

Day 305: Them and Us, by Abdul Abdullah

Last night I attended a lecture by Rosemary Crumlin, OAM, on the history of the Blake Prize for Religious Art, held in conjunction with the recent publication of Crumlin’s The Blake Book: Art, Religion, and Spirituality in Australia [Melbourne: Macmillan, 2010]. The Blake Prize holds a special significance for Crumlin, who is an ordained nun, with a personal interest in religious art that has expressed itself over the years in books and articles on the subject, as well as a number of exhibitions, the most monumental of which is arguably Beyond Belief, staged at the NGV in 1998. Furthermore, Crumlin had attended almost all Blake Prize exhibitions; was a finalist in a number of them; and dedicated her earlier thesis to the history of the first 25 years of the Prize. The book, which surveys 60 years of the Blake Prize history, is therefore very much a continuation and culmination of her life-long interest and association with the Prize.

The lecture was interesting inasmuch as it contained innumerable personal insights into Crumlin’s own impressions of the Prize; her thoughts on its various winners and runners-up; as well as personal relationships that had developed between the writer and the artists both during her involvement in the Prize and in the course of her research of the earlier thesis and the current volume.

The book itself is a treat to behold. Crumlin has taken an almost encyclopaedic approach to this publication in her aim to illustrate and provide authoritative insights to the sixty winning works from 1951 to 2010 by such artists as Justin O’Brien, Frank Hinder, Donald Friend, Eric Smith, Stan Rapotec, Leonard French, Roger Kemp, Ken Whisson, Alan Oldfield, Warren Breninger, Rosemary Valadon, George Gittoes, John Davis, Hilarie Mais, Euan Macleod, Leonard Brown, and numerous others. The images of winning pieces are frequently accompanied within the pages of the book by related works within the oeuvre of the respective artists, showing the depth of interest and involvement in their exploration of religious subject matter.

The lavishly illustrated fold-out pages feature works by some of the finalists from various years. Together with the winning pieces, they provide a most valuable insight into the gradually changing face of the Blake Prize for Religious Art, resulting from the timely, fitting, and increasingly visible presence of works by artists from diverse religious backgrounds (such as Abdul Abdullah’s Them and Us, winner of the MUA Human Justice Prize of the 2011 Blake Prize exhibition).

http://www.blakeprize.com/news/rosemary-crumlin-and-the-blake-book

http://abdulabdullah.com/home.html / http://www.fehilycontemporary.com.au/pages/abdul-abdullah/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

25
Oct
12

Day 299: and he taught you the wrestling which leads the way to love, by Sangeeta Sandrasegar.

SANGEETA SANDRASEGAR 2012

Day 299: and he taught you the wrestling which leads the way to love, by Sangeeta Sandrasegar.

Apropos the previous post, the Basil Sellers Art Prize unites its generous benefactor’s twin passions of art and sport. To my mind, it is also an exhilarating biannual exercise in bridging the gap between the two.

It is truly fascinating to observe some of our top art practitioners tackling the theme of sport through the unique prism of their visual idiom, and as some of the artists in this exhibition point out, the sports and eroticism, the athletic body and the physical allure, often go hand in hand.

The subject is tackled most directly in Sangeeta Sandrasegar’s and he taught you the wrestling which leads the way to love (2012). The paper silhouettes take their inspiration from the Greek red and black antique vases, which often depict sport scenes of the ancient Olympiads. But look closer, and you will soon notice that the only physical exercise that writhing, contorting bodies are engaged in is that of love-making.

The Basil Sellers Art Prize 2012 on view at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne, until November 4.

http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/exhibitions/exhib-date/2012-08-03/exhib/basil-sellers-art-prize-2012

http://sangeetasandrasegar.blogspot.com.au/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]




Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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