June 17 - August 19, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday June 18th, 3 - 5pm
Being naked is analogous to revealing oneself in an unorthodox way, of exposing what is usually hidden or covered, due to convention. To be naked is to be bold, overt and confident. Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to present NAKED, a show of work that is playfully bold, technically fearless and openly defiant of the conventional use of nudity in art. Comprised of the work of 14 artists, NAKED raises questions about appropriateness, customs, intimacy and privacy.
The paintings of artists Robert Feintuch and Emily Eveleth mischievously allude to male and female body parts using food references. Feintuch hints at dwindling male fertility with his paltry bunch of grapes and Eveleth's doughnuts intimate the sumptuous female form. The drawings of Robert Colescott and Robert Cumming reveal a traditional method of depicting the nude body but in a nontraditional way. Colescott's "Woman Fleeing From her Youth" shows a woman embracing the weight of age in favor of the superficial nakedness of youth. Robert Cummings naked subjects are drawn doing tasks one would typically do while clothed, in the buff. This inventive depiction asks us to question the discomfort we have with nakedness on a regular basis.
Denise Marika's "Leg" and Rona Pondick's "Untitled Animal" are representations of the same body part but present entirely different interpretations. Pondick's leg sits heavy and rusted on its stand, an object made for movement in a state of inertia. In Marika's video loop we see her leg, which is seemingly still but upon closer inspection is subtly moving due to an inherent inability to remain absolutely motionless. These natural actions of a live limb present a stark contrast to Pondick's atrophied animal, leading us to wonder about the control, or lack there of that we have over our bodies.
The black and white photographs by John Goodman, Stephen DiRado, John Coplans and Peter Hujar depict nakedness at different levels of comfort and intimacy. Goodman's "Venus" is a torso that bares all, yet the mysterious identity of the barer of that torso affirms the forbidden quality of such blatant nudity. In DiRado's nudes, however, we see an ownership of nakedness that is almost offensive in its cockiness. His subjects' comfort with revealing themselves suggests an unprecedented level of self-confidence in our prudish world, especially within the context of his photographs, which are taken on the exclusive beaches of Aquinnah, MA the tip of Martha's Vineyard that is the summer residence of presidents and old Boston families alike. John Coplans' iconic photographs of his aging body start a conversation about one's intimacy and comfort with one's own nakedness. By photographing his body but never his face, Coplans retains some of the privacy required for nakedness but simultaneously bares all of himself, all his wrinkles, hairs, spots and scars to the public, keeping nothing private. Peter Hujar's "Anthony Blonde" is such an intimate portrait of its subject that his nakedness is almost forgotten; we are made to feel like more of a voyeur due more to the privacy of the moment than the nakedness of its subject.
The staged color photographs of Neeta Madahar and Barbara Norfleet uncover yet more aspects of being naked. In Madahar's portrait of "Melanie with Roses" a staged portrait where Melanie chooses how to have herself portrayed, she chooses to bare all. This is the naked of a real, confident woman, available for all to see. Barbara Norfleet's photographs of naked dolls have something of a disconcerting quality; unlike Madahar's Melanie, the blatant nakedness of these dolls seems almost taboo. They are children, exposed and their wide-eyed faces seem to reflect our surprise at their unclothed bodies being the subjects of portraits.
Lastly we have the photomontages of John O'Reilly and the photographs of Gary Schneider. Nakedness has been an important theme in the work of both of these artists. O'Reilly works in collage piecing together images found from a variety of different sources from reproductions of fine art works to pornographic magazines, juxtaposing these different uses of nakedness in such a way that draws attention to the many ways the body and nakedness can be perceived, as a thing of beauty or an object of desire. In Gary Schneider's artful photographs, the beauty of his subject's body is drawn out through Schneider's artistic process, which reveals a level of intimacy with his subjects that causes us to think about what's behind the nakedness of his subjects rather than to consider the nakedness itself.
The artists in the show come from diverse backgrounds and have all achieved high levels of success in their work. Together the work of these artists comprise NAKED, a show that exposes the multifaceted issues connected with the body in its natural form.