January 17th – February 2nd 2019
The 2019 winter FRESH! group show with the theme “Naked! What’s nu(de) in contemporary art” had invited guest artists who explored the concept of the nude in contemporary art.
The figure, specifically the nude, is arguably the most widely used subject matter in the history of art. From the Venus of Willendorf and Ancient Greece to Picasso and Giacometti, the nude figure has been used formally and conceptually to represent not only the model, but the emotions and ideals of their times and places. In this global world, what does it mean to use the nude in our modern age, particularly with the advent of new materials and technologies, both in the creation and spread of the artwork. How has the tradition carried over, and how has it changed to reflect our society?
Historically the nude was viewed in a more “heroic” fashion; from Antiquity to the Renaissance, while there were female nudes, the male nude dominated. There begins a shift in the 1600s and by the turn of the 19th century the landscape of nudes are almost entirely women, a lineage that we are still following today. What is it about the shift in modernity that has shifted the idea of the nude from “heroism” to “vulnerability” or simply more blatant “objectification”.
Viewing these artworks allows us a lens with which to see how each culture interprets beauty differently. From the Reubeneque figures to the airbrushed and photo shopped images we see today, how can the way we deal with the figure show us what our modern conceptions of beauty tell us about ourselves? How do the physical characteristics of the human body define a societies’ values? What are the values that society deems important enough to put into art?