NUDE The female nude is one of the oldest subjects in art, as the Palaeolithic Venus of Willendorf bears witness. Every world culture offers examples – even those where representation of the human form has been specifically forbidden. Inevitably, however, ideals of beauty have changed over the centuries. If Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus was with us in human form today, the picture editors of our leading fashion magazines would probably instruct their production people to Photoshop her, on the grounds that she has – what would be in their eyes at least – a rather thick waist. The beauties who feature in this exhibition are modern women, seen through contemporary eyes. Some of them are stylised – the sculptures of Sukhi Barber, David Begbie and Naomi Press are examples of this – while some are realistically presented. What they all have in common, however, is an appetite for the idea of the beautiful. Oddly enough, it is this that makes the show transgressive. One of the problems (though some people would perhaps think it is one of the virtues) of contemporary art is that it is often at war with long established, generally accepted notions about what is beautiful. It is equally often at war with the notion of skill. The paradox is that both of these ideas – that of the beautiful and that of the skilful – survive in full force in popular culture. Thus, for example, it was OK for the Pop artists of the 1960s to celebrate the female nude, so long as this was done at one remove. Nude images of beautiful women could take their place in avant-garde art, on condition that they were versions of pin-ups. The images presented here are not mediated or distanced in that way. They exist in the same sphere as the one we inhabit ourselves, not in some imaginary top-shelf soft porn utopia. Where the paintings that make up the bulk of the exhibition are concerned, it is interesting to note how the materials used, chiefly oil on canvas or oil on linen, rhyme with the actual texture of flesh. Oil paint is by its nature sensual. We are always aware that it goes on to the surface in liquid or semi-liquid form, and that the touch of the brush, creating the contours of the body, is like a caress. We are also aware that, when we look at any successful realist painting, we are witnessing a miracle of translation, which is also a miracle of transformation. What do I mean by this? First, that the painter translates three dimensions – the thing he sees – into two: an image on a flat surface. Second, that this representation takes on all the hues and textures of the original. In this specific case, where the subject is the nude, paint on canvas is transformed into skin. Skin that is shaped and coloured by what it covers: flesh; and beneath that again, it is shaped by the structure of the human skeleton. The nudes seen here do what contemporary works of art often signally fail to do. They appeal to our senses. Not merely to the sense of sight. They invite us – some would say improperly – to touch. In recent years, feminism has made much of the idea of the ‘controlling gaze’ – the theory that men exercise a kind of domination over women, by looking at them naked. In fact, this proposition can easily be reversed. In art, especially, the beautiful female nude exercises power over everyone who chooses to look at her. Latent here is the Hindu goddess Kali, who both creates and destroys. What we need to take away from works of art, whether we know it or not, is a kind of vibration, something that resonates long after we have looked at them. Works of this kind, which appeal directly to our senses, have a much better chance of doing that than those that are too full of their own virtue to make this appeal. Edward Lucie-Smith, Art Historian, Critic & Author
was born in Stockholm 1963. Arzt has exhibited extensively in Europe and is represented by a number of galleries worldwide. Beauty, although a prominent theme present in all his work, it is the sense of the mystical and faintly melancholic that is more subtly evoked. His aim is to paint in a realistic style, but not more than is necessary. He peels off and simplifies in order to â€œfind his wayâ€? in searching for a painterly realism with the expression and charm of a painting. Pushing a picture to just beyond photo-realism for him is crucial.
1 Nude I oil on canvas 135 x 90 cm (53 x 35 in)
was born in Hertfordshire in 1972. From an early age she was drawn to the classical and ancient traditions of art and philosophy, which led her to undertake a traditional sculptural training at The City and Guilds of London Art School. Having travelled extensively and inspired by many varied cultural experiences she spent twelve years studying Buddhist philosophy and producing sculptures based on the traditional techniques of stone carving and lost-wax bronze casting.
2 Dynamic Equilibrium ed. of 6 bronze 145 x 100 x 55 cm (57 x 39 x 22 in)
Begbie was born in Edinburgh in 1955. He David studied at Winchester School of Art and Gloucestershire College of Art and Design followed by a post-graduate degree from the Slade School of Sculpture where he emerged with a unique sculptural technique and the beginnings of a new visual language using steel-mesh. He has exhibited worldwide and has an extensive list of public commissions.
(a) Sinu steelmesh 51 x 15 x 13 cm (20 x 6 x 5 in)
(b) Sinuu steelmesh suspended 79 x 67 x 12 cm (31 x 26 x 5 in)
3 Psynu steelmesh 92 x 28 x 21 cm (36 x 11 x 8 in)
(c) Eicun steelmesh 51 x 18 x 13 cm (20 x 7 x 5 in)
was born in Turin in 1948. Benedicentiâ€™s style is clear, immediate and is the result of years of intense study and tireless practice. His work is deeply rooted in the still-life tradition that sprouted in the 16th Century, yet with a strong independent personality, having deeply meditated on the works from this era and absorbed the symbolic value, he has moved away from this genre and has invented his own unique style of â€˜Extreme Realismâ€™.
4 Nuda Veritas oil on board 90 x 180 cm (35 x 71 in)
Antonio Cazorla was born in Punta Umbria in 1971. From an early age he showed an exceptional interest and aptitude for art. In 1989, Cazorla began studying at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Seville. The experience of this city, a place rich in both art and history, was a decisive moment in his life and career. Cazorla utilises colour, tonality and form in order to reflect the calmness and sensitivity of his subjects with his figurative paintings expertly capturing the beauty and sensuality of the female form.
5 Nude oil on canvas 50 x 100 cm (20 x 39 in)
Ian Cumberland was born in Banbridge, Co. Down, in 1983. He studied painting at the University of Ulster, Belfast, graduating in 2006. At university the teachers who most influenced him were Mark Ainsworth and David Campbell, the latter having a strong interesting conceptual art, which in turn greatly influenced Cumberlandâ€™s ideas of compositional development. On leaving the University of Ulster he was offered a place at Goldsmith College, London, but decided rather to paint full-time. Other artists who have influenced him are Lucian Freud and Stephen Conroy, although he borrows freely from those who he admires. He lives and works in Ireland.
6 Nude on Red Chair oil on canvas 100 x 70 cm (39 x 28 in)
Patrick De Smet Smet
was born in Eeklo, Belgium, in 1960. De Smet has an MA in Classics (Latin and Greek) and in Egyptology. In a previous life, he has worked in several Belgian and English museums and universities, in an art gallery and a theatre, and in IT. He is now a full-time fine art photographer, managing his “creative flow” from start to finish, from inspiration and idea to finished prints and exhibitions, being helped by the loving support of his muse.
7 Niche ed. of 6 diasec giclée print 45 x 80 cm (18 x 31 in)
Maxwell Doig Doig
was born in Huddersfield, in 1966. He graduated from Manchester School of Art in 1988 with a BA in Fine Art and went on to pursue his postgraduate studies in Fine Art at the Slade School of Art, London, between 1988 and 1990. Doig is preoccupied with the human figure and its spatial relationship combined with the interplay of light and shade. His use of unconventional viewpoints depicting static solitary figures along with the application of subtle pigments and textural complexity results in contemplative ephemeral imagery. In 1997 he was awarded the Villiers David Prize. He lives and works in Manchester.
8 Still Water Figure mixed media on canvas on panel 100 x 68 cm (39 x 27 in)
Stuart Luke Gatherer Gatherer
was born in 1971 to Scottish and Dutch parents. He was brought up in the Eastern Highlands of Scotland, and attended Edinburgh College of Art from where he graduated in 1995 with an MA (Honours) degree in Fine Art. Loosely entitled “The Rubens Project” these small works show Gatherer’s continuing obsession with Paint as substance. Each piece is built up in numerous layers, thick and thin, transparent and opaque – every layer building on the previous and informing the next. The cropped nature of the focus deliberately renders the model anonymous. This is not naked portraiture. Form, texture, flesh and blood are the subject. This is the body as still life: infinitely varied yet disturbingly dehumanized.
9 Nude Studies I-VIII oil on linen on panel 20 x 15 cm (8 x 6 in)
Harry Holland Harry Holland
was born in Glasgow in 1941. He trained at St. Martinâ€™s School of Art from 1965-69. This extraordinary classical artist has had over thirty solo exhibitions and figured in countless group exhibitions. His work has developed a substantial international following amongst collectors and is found in numerous important public collections worldwide. He lives and works in Cardiff.
10 Nude oil on canvas 91 x 76 cm (36 x 30 in)
Malcolm Liepke was born in 1953 and raised Malcolm in Minneapolis. As a student he hungered for ‘classical’ training rather than the ‘conceptual’ ideas being taught. In a bold move, he left the Art Center College in Los Angeles and went to New York. That Malcolm Liepke’s paintings are arrestingly beautiful is evident, but they are much more. Through pattern, colour and bravura brushwork, Liepke delves deeply into profound areas of human nature. He has exhibited extensively internationally enjoying phenomenal success with a string of sell out exhibitions.
11 Curled Beauty oil on canvas 152 x 122 cm (60 x 48 in)
Jamil Naqsh was born in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh Jamil in 1938. In a still rapidly expanding art world, Jamil Naqsh holds a key position. He is the best-known contemporary artist from Pakistan, long famous in his own country, and also well established in international auctions. His work reflects, not just the culture of Pakistan, but also that of the whole of the Indian subcontinent, both Muslim and nonMuslim. In particular, there are many echoes of the imperial Mughal regime that once ruled the whole of India. At the same time, the exhibition demonstrates how an artist with major gifts, coming from this background, has been able to enter into a fruitful relationship with western Modernism, and thus link himself to what is now a worldwide community of visual artists.
12 Reclining Nude oil on canvas 91 x 183 cm (36 x 72 in)
Juan Bautista Nieto was born in Seville in 1963. Following his studies to be a doctor, which in later years would prove a formative influence on his understanding and appreciation of the human anatomy, Nieto gave up medicine in favour of his secret passion for painting. His work presents an exaggerated obsession with recreating a reality, which reaches beyond the precise representation of a photograph. He transcends the theme and concept of hyperrealism using it as a vehicle to take us onto another level wherein he achieves an extraordinary kind of intensity, which paradoxically creates a distinct feeling of unreality. With some justification Nieto is regarded within Spanish art circles as one of the foremost exponents of hyperrealism in Spain today.Â
13 Nude II acrylic on panel 55 x 160 cm (22 x 63 in)
Naomi Press Naomi Press was born in Poland in 1927. Her highly personalized approached to sculpture – contemplative, intuitive, passionate, direct, and concise – has revealed undreamed possibilities for her abstract forms in space. Press’s deft manipulation of sweeping planes and volumes, although tightly controlled, project the viewer into a timeless world where form and feeling have been integrated. This is a world, which values the profound life-affirming experience of her sculpture – a deeply felt, graceful encounter.
(a) Arabesque ed. of 7 silvered bronze 27 x 13 x 10 cm (11 x 5 x 4 in)
(b) Arch with Raised Knee ed. of 7 silvered bronze 27 x 13 x 10 cm (11 x 5 x 4 in)
14 Form in Movement ed. of 7 silvered bronze 27 x 45 x 20 cm (11 x 18 x 8 in)
(c) Lunge ed. of 7 silvered bronze 31 x 20 x 15 cm (11 x 8 x 6 in)
Alfredo Roldan was born in Madrid in 1965. At the age of 22, having no formal artistic training, he started selling his work in street markets whilst at the same time presenting his work at major competitions of which he won several. He aspires to embrace the major avant-garde movements of the early 20th Century (Fauvism and Cubism), which has defined his understanding of colour, form and composition.
15 Desnuda en el Sill贸n oil on canvas 81 x 100 cm (32 x 39 in)
Cesar Santos Cesar Santos was born in 1982. Cuban-American, studied at Miami Dade College and the New World School of the Arts before travelling to Florence. He returned to Miami, where he developed his philosophy of marrying both the classical and the modern juxtaposed within one painting. His influences range from the Renaissance to the masters of the nineteenth century to Modernism. With superb technique, he infuses a harmony between the natural and the conceptual to create works that are provocative and dramatic.
16 First Night oil on linen 76 x 142 cm (30 x 56 in)
Najmi Sura Najmi Sura
was born in Karachi in 1951. Najmi Sura is an artist renowned for modernizing the miniature format in interesting ways. While keeping the trappings of the Mughal past, assimilating the brocades, jewellery and profiles of the courtiers of the Mughal period, she introduces modern elements, incongruous flat planes and clashing shadows to break with tradition. This experimental approach distinguishes her from other artists who have painted Mughal subjects in a revival rather than modernist styles.
17 Nude oil on canvas 91 x 61 cm (36 x 24 in)
Christopher Thompson Christopher Thompson was born in 1969 in Grimsby. He trained at Norwich School of Art followed by The Royal Academy Schools where he received his Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art in 1997. Whilst being a resolutely figurative artist, the characteristics of the medium are as important for him in conveying the essence of a paintingâ€™s meaning. He has won numerous awards and in 2003 his portrait of the British actor Peter Postlethwaite was acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, London for its collections.
18 Night I oil on canvas 46 x 36 cm (18 x 14 in)
Luciano Ventrone Ventrone was born in Rome in 1942. He is regarded by the Global art establishment, museums, curators and critics as one of the leading exponents of his genre. Ventrone is often categorized as a ‘hyperrealist’. Far from offering us the somewhat flattened version of physical forms typical of the monocular vision of the camera, his paintings have an almost overwhelming solidity and physical presence, to the point where the nearest shapes seem ready to break through the front plane of the canvas. His paintings are in numerous public and private collections worldwide. He lives and works in Rome and Collelongo (L’Aquila) Italy.
19 Il Drappo Giallo oil on linen 90 x 60 cm (35 x 24 in)
©ALBEMARLE GALLERY MMXII