Statement

The work I am involved in at present evolves around the painted body and, more specifically aims to question the somewhat voyeuristic gaze of the viewer, brought face to face with the nude in the painting.

 

With this particular project, I am revisiting the classic theme of the bathers, a favourite and central subject of the impressionist and modern repertoire. Looking at familiar paintings by Matisse, Cézanne, Degas, and the female protagonists they depict, one would probably expect to feel a sense of languor and sensuality, to identify with the lavish pleasure of these moments dedicated to the care of the body, in the familiar and intimate company of other women. Taking a closer look, I came to realize that the poses struck by some of these characters seemed somewhat unnatural or slightly off. This is the case, for example, in two Degas paintings. In Deux baigneuses sur l'herbe (1886-1890), one of the bathers stretches with apparent difficulty to tend to one of her toes. Or,in Baigneuses (1885-1895), this other one puts on a pair of long green socks, whilst for the rest, remaining entirely nude.

 

I hence decided to revisit this topic in my own terms, pairing it with my own memories of summer afternoons spent at the beach, a place where people stroll around, busy themselves with different sports, swim, play cards, get dressed and undressed, picnic, talk, tan, read or sleep. Outlining the subject frame that way gave me the opportunity to re-visit an infinite range of interactions and narrative options. The result is a series of paintings that not only explore the actors in their beach occupations, but propose a discourse and possible physical interaction with the viewer.

 

Fairly quickly during the process, I took note that the bathers painted in what seems to be a very respectable rendering within a repertory meant to celebrate the beauty and harmony of the female body, might in reality be a manifestation of the repressed desire by the male painter to enter the mysterious universe of femininity. The artist, in this repeated attempt to capture the unrevealed, and paradoxically so by depicting figures who, completely bare, might in reality have nothing to hide, remains nonetheless a voyeur. He continues to be an exterior and uninvited witness to the scene, looking on and never taking part. The bathing women, to him, inhabit a space that is a fantasy. What might they actually be doing in the absence of men?

 

This body of work gives me the opportunity to interrogate the predictable nude as subject, probably entailing a wide consensus of beauty and good taste, and at the same time to make a comment on the opacity of the gaze. Painting offers me the possibility of enhancing the banality of gestures and poses, exploring the somewhat grotesque nature of the nude body and portraying the potential absurdity of the human condition. I paint in a fairly naive and direct way, trying to avoid self-censorship in the process. My aim is to capture what happens sensually between the persons portrayed, which is more in the domain of the vibratory experience than the correct perspective portrayal of their bodies. By doing so, I invite the viewer to identify with the protagonists of the painting, and possibly to recognize their own unease or attraction whilst standing in front of them.