Opening tonight at MuzeuMM, Buttnekkid is two artists’ take on nude painting. It is also a phenomenal show, as graceful as it is non-judgmental, lush and visceral.
As the show’s description notes “We are all born naked – and artists either reveal or obfuscate this fact when creating figurative work.” This show is all about the reveal.
Above, show curation in progress
A reveal which oddly enough still makes some people uncomfortable. When Facebook frowns at posting something that even resembles a nipple, it’s only too obvious that the puritanical purveyors of “morality” are still very much with us.
So it is worth noting that as well as being beautiful work, the two solo shows that comprise Buttnekkid, curated by Mat Gleason, are also making a bold statement as to the beauty of the body and our views toward it.
Lena Moross pairs same-sex couples in intimate yet unsentimental poses, some clothed, some bare. Anna Stump critiques the ways in which our society seems to fear flesh as much as it is obsessed by it.
Both artists have a uniquely lovely way of expressing intimacy, of revealing the body even as they portray this form as exactly what it is – completely natural.
Stump, left; Moross, right
Moross says “I was working on my new series on figures and Anna saw it. She said she had figure paintings too, and proposed we do a double show at MuzeuMM.”
Because the two artists create entirely different works, they knew that their figure paintings would not mesh, and should stand as two separate, thematically twinned exhibitions at the gallery.
“I worked my usual way: staging and taking photos from real people and then painting from them. Anna did her take on the 1970s era pornography industry. Basically we did our own thing in our studios,” Moross explains.
Stump reveals “About a year ago, Lena saw an older figurative painting I’d done with a heavy grid structure of drips. She really liked it and asked if I’d do an exhibition with her of nudes. I said, of course!”
According to Stump, “Lena and I are similar in the way we approach art making. We are both extremely confident with our technical skills and understanding of the body represented in 2D, which frees us to make work that is actually less concerned about beauty and more about monstrousness.”
For Stump, the inspiration for her subject matter came from a stack of Playboy magazines she borrowed from her studio mate. “I grew up in the 1970s, exposed to nudes from Playboy, courtesy of an uncle. I’m charmed by the awkward, pre-Photoshop poses, the tans, the naiveté, the non-surgically enhanced bodies. The porn is almost wholesome. The male sketches—earnest, goofy—are also referenced from the magazine ads and editorials,” she relates.
Gleason notes that the show is about the “female gaze and agency…of disrobing.” He says that nudity in art received a bad reputation when the models were all women and the painters men. But with two women creating this work, the tables have turned.