Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing Else Matters

"The Inquisition, what a show, The Inquisition, here we go......." and so the song goes. Every time I start thinking about nudes in art, I end up thinking of Mel Brooks' Inquisition sketch in History of the World Part I . Let me explain. 



One of my favourite nude paintings is The Rokeby Venus (Venus at her Mirror) by Velásquez , seen here on the right. I love her pose, her mysterious face in the mirror, her sensuality and I was always fascinated by that beautiful 'lower back'. Perfect. I also love it because I see it as a symbol of how the nude body has been perceived in art. Completed between 1647 and 1651, Venus was portrayed from the rear probably for safety's sake rather than to tease the imagination. 17th Century Spain was a dangerous place. Anyone caught by the Inquisition painting 'lascivious' paintings was fined 500 ducats. This picture is the only (out of probably four) Venus paintings by Velásquez that still survives. In 1914, this Venus was attacked with a knife in the National Gallery in London by the suffragette  Mary Richardson . In a 1952 interview she said that she "didn't like the way men visitors gaped at it all day long". I can understand the gaping. So, beauty, men gaping, religious zeal, feminist movements.....you have it all.



I have never understood what's the big fuss about the nude human body. Beauty is the only thing that comes to my mind. I find the nudity of the soul, nudity of the inner self more difficult to deal with. Those of you who know what it means to feel 'nude' from within know how uncomfortable it may feel. But there again, with the right person it might  feel good too. And this brings me to my latest nude, seen here underneath. I'm enjoying working on this series, not only for the subject matter but also for the challenges it involves. My fascination for the line between the real and the abstract is still there but the real is becoming more 'real' than in my landscapes. I think the title of the painting says it all....Nothing Else Matters




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