Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reasons For the Figure


This is Reasons For Drowning, oil on panel 14" square. I did this for the Baroque/Classical group called Initial Ascent, and it is on the CD cover of the selfsame album title.
Here, I think, is an example of how the nude can really help convey emotion. It was imperative that the dark melancholia that pervades the music of this album come across on its cover. That was my assignment. Were just the landscape and sky depicted by themselves, I think it would fall short. There would be too much room for interpretation. It would be too open-ended and vague. The nude, pronate woman nails the whole thing, however: the vulnerability, the stillness, the very fact that you are unsure if she is alive -- it is an allegory that we can connect with, because of the nature of the figure.
Too often the nude is exploited for the easy thrill/shock via sexuality. This is akin to fast food; you can taste salt and fat and sugar easily - but where is the actual food? I this instance I would ask a John Currin (use Google image search, but beware): where is the actual art? Humanity needs to be lifted up again, a la the Renaissance. That is: artists need to depict the human figure in a way that elevates it beyond the base qualities of worldly existence. This has yet to be fully explored in a 20th/21st century context. There are a bold few who have done so, but it is not enough. It should really be a new movement. Too often has the figure been denigrated, in both low and high arts. The Divine that is in the Human Spirit can be captured in art. Why are we not seeing it? We need to see it, to have hope again.

3 comments :

Martha Miller said...

beautiful painting! so romantic! in the emotional and haunting sense...

here's the question: what is pornography and what is eroticism? gloria steinham (sp?) wrote a great chapter on this topic in her book, outrageous acts and eveyday rebellions. i'll have to read it again, but she says something to the effect that porn invoves a victim held captive somehow.
there is a raging river of porn/sludge roaring underground in our culture. where is the healthy (spiritual?) eroticism and what does that look like?

Martha Miller said...

my turn to typo:

porn INVOLVES a victim

Rob S. said...

You know, I think that anything that could be called "healthy eroticism" has been relegated to the kitsch category by today's generation of nihilists. It must seem so quaint to them.
This sounds terribly cynical, and I wish that I knew differently, but I haven't seen evidence of anything to the contrary. I hope my personal take on this can affect some change.