Female nudity exhibition breaks boundaries between expectations and reality

An exhibition "The Female Nude: Ways of Seeing" organised by the School of Arts' final year students threw open its doors for the first time on Friday, the 10th of May, presenting Kent Print Collection's 8th exhibition, alongside the art pieces borrowed from numerous galleries across the country.

"The aim of the Female Nude: Ways of Seeing is to uncover the conventional perception of the unclothed body and to prompt a rethinking of the female nude in a contemporary perspective, through the medium of print. By showing a selection of historical prints, mainly reproductions of Old Masters juxtaposed with modern and contemporary approaches to the subject, we are challenging the viewer to make new encounters with the female form," said Carola D'Ambrosio, one of the exhibition's curators.

Behind each work there are dozens of unasked questions with striking ambiguity, 'Do we need to demystify the female nude form, in order to unveil the secrets of the nature, or can it bring us to the idea of perfect oneness - something that makes us equal, in a sense that we are all, after all, mentally, emotionally and spiritually naked?' as Kenneth Clark discusses in The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art.

Simone Cantarini's 'Adam and Eve' from Dr. Ben Thomas’s collection sends the viewer back in time to a biblical representation of the first woman, Eve. The idea of Eve's body is quintessential to the ideal of the 'nude', as she is assigned the role of the first woman, although it also can be eroticized through her sinful acceptance of the sacred apple. As Lynda Nead states is The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality "The term erotic accounts for the measure of aestheticized sexual representation."

This representation continues in the 'Centaurus' by a contemporary realist portrait painter, Jonathan Yeo, who illustrates the sexualized childish female nude body in a modern and raw manner. He plays with perceptions by attaching bare skin clippings of potential 'imperfections' such as hairy legs and stretch marks, adding various disturbing images from pornographic magazines, which can be visible only if the viewer steps closer.

Pablo Picasso's 'Woman at the Window', shows the painter's love for the 'reductive method' of light and dark colours, the design and tone of the composition. In the print, the two curvy female figures lay on the bed - one of them opens the curtains letting the sunlight in, and the other curls under the blankets to shield from it - this creates a contrasting image to the artist's cubist period.

The exhibition will be open until the 26th of May in Studio 3 Gallery, Jarman Building. There also will be an opportunity to take part in life drawing workshop sessions for free, and another talk with British art historian and writer, Frances Borzello, about her own way of seeing 'the female nude', followed by a Q&A.

For more information follow: blogs.kent.ac.uk/studio3gallery.

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