Scandal: Representations of the Nude Body
LOUIS SHANKAR is impressed by this exhibition exploring nudity and its place in art
Nudity is a big thing in art.
There’s a lot of it – and there always has been. But as an art historian, this causes problems: analysing the brushwork on a series of reclining nudes is genuine work but looks rather more dubious to strangers looking over you shoulder in the library.
Naked bodies in art generally fall into two groups, though: athletic, muscular men or beautiful women traipsed across luxurious furniture. Scandal: Representations of the Nude Body – a student-led exhibition on until Sunday – challenges this. It’s very successful.
Put simply, there are pretty pictures involving nudity and nakedness. What more could you want?
Looking past the obvious, though, reveals a clever and thoughtful exhibition. The theme is consistent but varied; two rooms are filled with a limited but diverse selection of paintings, drawings, photography, and mixed-media pieces.
The female nude is much more prominent, but instead of the patriarchal objectification you might find in the Fitz, the naked form is embraced and celebrated. Yasmina Podgorski’s three photographs are particularly noticeable, both visually striking and filled with clear meaning.
The male body, found in Justyna Maluchnik’s Human Body/Nature is made to feel weak and helpless, crushed beneath the power of nature. Compared to the impressive, stereotypical sculptures from Ancient Greece or Renaissance Italy of athletes and gods, these simple photographs offer a stark contrast.
There is also a fantastic celebration of different cultures. Artists from a range of backgrounds are included, their works using the nude form for diverse applications. A beautiful pencil portrait by Ayo Oladipupo Filade epitomises this; seeing it made me wonder if the pieces were for sale.
The only downside to the exhibition is its location. I’m still not quite sure where it is, other than that it’s beyond ARU and the Grafton Centre so it’s definitely far away. The venue itself is great: what appears to be a disused and slightly dilapidated shop, it oozes artiness.
If you’ve got the time, it’s well worth the trip out.
Scandal: Representations of the Nude Body is on until Sunday 18th January at 9 Norfolk Street, CB1 2LD. Free entry. Further details on the Facebook Event.