'NUDE' SOLD OUT!
Following the success of the Preview of Henrietta's solo exhibition 'NUDE' at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea London 8-11th March 2018, there will instead be a selection of new small works on paper and the launch of Henrietta's limited edition hand made screen print of 'Balance' (image above) at Edgar Modern in Bath from 17th March 2018.
Catalogue of 'NUDE' still available price £10
Please e-mail Rachael or Stuart at Edgar Modern via this link for further details.
Nudity has always held a fascination for me. As a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it seemed perfectly natural to see naked bodies. Perhaps I was lucky enough to be reared in a fairly liberal minded family where things like topless sunbathing was the norm. That all seems rather idyllic nowadays. With the advent of the mobile phone and the consequent plethora of visual information so readily available (and sharable) and subject to misuse, everything has become shrouded in taboo. I find myself dreaming of those lazy afternoons, spent reading a book in the long grass, visiting friends and swimming in wild abandon in their open-air pool, liberated enough to be comfortable being naked amongst different generations, and obviously oblivious to the current threat of being caught on camera. It was certainly an education and I’m glad that my formative years were thus unencumbered. As I became a young woman I was able to explore the wonders of the developing body through drawing, and many studies of rather gawky females adorned my sketchbook. The occasional weekend visits to family friends who were artists, confirmed in my mind that it was quite okay, and quite exciting, to have bold images of nude women adorning the walls. It was all food for thought in my burgeoning creative young mind.
I remember the thrill of my first life drawing experience. As A Level art students we had access to a fully nude life model, tucked away in a top floor room of a nearby house. It felt like I had been inducted into adult life, much like passing your driving test or losing your virginity; one where we could take the body seriously and explore it as an art form.
The nude is an archetypal subject and one that artists have used for millennia. Some of the earliest forms we know are the small fertility sculptures such as the Venus de Willendorf, estimated to have been made between 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. These depictions of women’s bodies ooze female sexuality and abundance in the accentuation their womanly curves. The nude is a time-honoured tradition, often allegorical in subject, as in the great paintings of Titian, Rubens and Renoir. Renditions of the nude often describe what is thought to be about 'beauty' and this particular aspect has become a phenomenon in our modern culture and a recurring theme in films, photography, fashion and magazines. The body’s desirability is under constant consideration and scrutiny.
At the Royal Academy Schools we were required to spend at least one day a week in the life room. Beneath a plaster cast of the famous Anatomical Crucifixion of 1801 of a flayed man we made careful, detailed studies in a formal and structured environment.
Music as well as visual stimulation is as important to me in providing inspiration. The concept of calling this exhibition ‘Nude’ came to me last summer as I sat comfortably ensconced at home, watching a mesmeric set by Radiohead performing at Glastonbury festival. Thom Yorke’s rendition of their song ‘Nude’ resonated deep and sowed a seed which grew and grew with subsequent repeated listening. I couldn’t get the song out of my head, the sensual, raw, simple lyrics fed into the studio and in to my paintings. The struggle to create, the frustration of trying to create something, a fleeting sense of something which you can’t seem to grasp immediately, and yet you keep trying to create, starting from scratch again and again, cautioning yourself not to overreach; the words in the song drummed into me, soft and intimate, as the large abstract paintings ‘Blush’ and ’Sensual' came about.
I wanted to create a body of work which would hang together and create a dialogue about painting the nude today. There are no male nudes in this series of paintings. I wanted the paintings to talk about beauty, softness, physical and emotional vulnerability and provide a stripped away honest expression of what it feels like to 'live' in a woman’s body, how it feels to be exposed, free, sensual, erotic, alive. By abstracting elements, accentuating curves, experimentation and expression have informed my paintings. I wanted to celebrate my own body, from its tender beginnings, free of hang-ups and issues in its youth, giving myself permission to create emotionally honest and truthful autobiographical work. I also wanted to include as a contrast some purely abstract pieces, hence ‘Song’, ‘Subtle Touch’, ‘Wild Abandon’, ’Fusion’, ‘Lin’, ‘Home' and ‘Southern Court’ join the mix, inspiration for these coming directly from the figurative work.
These paintings are personal. They are naked, nude, exposed, rude, pink, fleshy, secret. The pleasurable comfort of the feminine palette, rendering flesh and personality in to each subject, made them compelling to work on. I could explore texture, line, tonality within their various physiques. Positive attributes of plump yielding flesh fed my imagination; rounded forms of breast, belly and thigh described procreative power, creativity, their languorous, rolling, lolling weight building strong imagery. Authentic qualities of femininity sprung forth.
I was looking at other painters and photographers that have extensively used this same universal subject as a means to an end. Amongst others I looked at Matisse, Lucien Freud, Balthus, Rodin, Louise Bourgeois, John Currin, Marlene Dumas, Carol Rama, Celia Hempton, Irving Penn, Lee Friedlander, Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, the list goes on, and all have used the nude in different and totally original ways.
Nudes can be bold, as in Jenny Saville's large scale autobiographical drawings and paintings. They can be fictional, tell stories. Think of Bonnard’s studies of his wife washing herself in her bath, her neurosis captured for eternity in shimmering pastel oil paint. Picasso’s monstrous women, sensual women, beautiful creatures. De Kooning’s possibly misogynistic series of depictions of women inspired by looking at huge billboards of overblown, idealised, glorified, shiny women with their ruby red lips and buxom busts. From William Scott’s stylised and simplified line drawings of the women in his life to Francis Bacon’s gritty and often violent renditions of his models and lovers, their flesh described in paint like lumps of raw meat, to Sarah Lucas’s more abstract creations using fluff stuffed tights to describe her bodies in a series of ‘Nuds’ which are uncannily human and 'quite sexy’ and referential to the sculptures of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
This is a subject I’m sure that I will continue explore as I mature as a woman and as an artist. The scope is as large as each individual. I will always be fascinated by the variety which nature provides and hope that we as a society can continue to celebrate what is surely the most wonderful creation, the naked body, NUDE.
Henrietta Dubrey February 2018
A catalogue for NUDE by Henrietta Dubrey will be available to purchase soon