Tuesday, November 27, 2007
More sex problems
I met up briefly with an old friend the other day, in Gerona, northern Spain. She’s an Austrian painter. Recently she attended a master class with an international array of well-known artists and part of the work they were set involved ten minute life studies, a traditional exercise in observation and line. The nudes were a man and a woman and they could be arranged however the individual artist wanted. My friend accomplished six or seven such studies, each one a short narrative of possible relations between couples, though she said that she only drew what she saw and she arranged her pairing, almost intuitively. In many ways the works are more erotic than most of those in the Seduction exhibition, covered in my last blog but a visit to the Picasso exhibition in Barcelona would show that they remain firmly within a tradition of such depictions and hardly stray from the natural ground of, let’s say, the bedroom.
She had been asked to bring examples of her work to a gallery in Gerona and when she disclosed her pieces, the reaction was what one might have expected from any time since sex became taboo, owing to biblical interpretations of western religions, (and today, no doubt, many Moslems would adopt similar attitudes). It wasn’t the fact that the pictures are of nudes, it is the sexual charge that each picture contains. This was deemed “too strong” for the gallery’s public.
When the same artist showed her work in an exhibition, the related website received many emails that were abusive for depicting naked forms and some that assumed that the artist must have permissive attitudes, herself, bordering on ‘nymphomania’. Men, particularly, apparently bought post cards of the works and said they would return to buy the originals but once home they were made to renege on their promises by their infuriated partners.
Why? Were the drawings depicting uncomfortable realities in the homes of would-be buyers? Were these men trying to communicate to their wives something about the shortfall in sexual relations? Or does the same prudishness reign today as it has done through recent centuries?
Like any inspired artist, when she draws, it seems to me, she unconsciously influences line and space with all that she’s seen and heard. The works are vignettes with appealing ambiguities, even though individual viewers may see only one interpretation.
Just a few lines and shading on paper exploring what happens behind many a closed door. Inflammatory for many, nevertheless.