Friday, August 22, 2008

2 Women

I'm painting two women in the relatively near future. One I know a little bit; the other not at all. Both are attractive. One wants to be painted nude; the other will go, I'm assuming, for something a bit more demure. Neither is a paid assignment; more of a busman's holiday--whatever that means. One solicited me to paint her; the other accepted an offer that I made.

Me? I am loving, by the way, these fucking semicolons.

Anyway, life does have its moments. When the individual hereafter to be known as Patient #1 (or, just for convenience, "#1"; or, if I'm feeling the full weight of the positive bond between painter and subject, "Onesy") asked me to paint her I did what I always do--sent her to this very blog. T'was she that prompted the previous post titled "I'd love to paint your portrait..." Admirably, #1 did more than her share of homework, read way too much of The Year of Magical Painting for her own good, then clicked through on "my current portfolio" and looked closely at the work.

Her favorite?



Hmmm. Interesting choice. Patient #1 is, as you might guess, the one who wants to pose nude.

"St. Joan Receives the Spirit of the Lord" is, as you long-term readers know, one of my Catholic Saints series. If, in fact, three paintings make a series. The other two are "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa" and "The Lamentations of St. Agnes." St. Joan is a biggie, by the way. Almost seven feet high; five and a half feet wide. She certainly fills a room.

Here, for the record, are Theresa and Agnes:





The idea, if it isn't obvious already, is the visual exploration of the fine line between sexual and spiritual ecstasy. And I will say that, although it's a badly flawed painting (one of my earliest attempts at representational drip painting), I did have the strong feeling that, having painted that face, I could die a happy man. I should drag that thing out of storage and hang it on a wall.

Anyway, regarding me? I love St. Joan. And art historians years from now will find much to study and reflect on with this painting. Assuming art historians will ever actually give a shit about whatever it is that is being conducted under the auspices of The Year of Magical Painting.
[Note to self--Remind me to tell you about the person who recently told me he "liked the blog, but found the tone a bit cocky."]
And of course it is all too easy to stand around and admire the stuff that's already done. Somewhat harder, one might suggest, is the doing of the thing. Which brings me back to Onsey and the challenge, in this day and age, of painting nudes. Anybody who's seen a Victoria's Secret ad (and, really, who hasn't?) knows that we are confronted with virtual, implied and, even sometimes, actual nudity all the time. I think it was cooler to paint nudes back in the old days, when it was harder to talk the girls out of their cloze.
And what about that Gucci ad?
Thank you. Exactly what I'm talking about.
You should explain it to the readers.
What? They don't know? I mean, isn't it famous?
Just tell them.
Okay. So a couple of years ago there was a Gucci ad featuring a model named Carmen Kass. It ran in W Magazine and a couple of other places. Vogue, maybe. Anyway, it featured the lower half of Ms. Kass, mostly unclothed, with a male model kneeling in front of her, pondering (and here I am only supposing) something along the lines of "Wow, how does a gay boy from Kansas move to New York City and two weeks later find himself staring at Carmen Kass' crotch?"
Get back to the story.
I mean, it's like a Lou Reed song.
Get back to the story.

Okay. So the point of the story is that in the American versions of the ad, she more or less had her underwear where one's underwear should typically be. But in the European version, she had the damned things pulled down so you could see her pubic hair. Which was, of course, sculpted in the shape of the Gucci "G" logo.
And what does that tell us?
I'm not sure.
While you are thinking about it, why don't you see if you can find the image in question.
It amazes me that if you Google "Carmen Kass+Gucci", then click "images", this image shows up as the first, third, fifth and sixth thumbnail. It is interesting to note that the American version of the ad is nowhere to be found.



So I guess it is pretty famous.

Anyway, what does it all mean? What it all means is this:





Actually I don't know what it all means. But I do sometimes get the feeling that it's all been done before. I mean, if you line up Picasso and Matisse, plus maybe a couple of out-of-the-box yahoos like my boy Jackson, you end up with the same sinking feeling. What's left for Geoff?

I mean, after that ad, what's left? What can I possibly think up to match that? What's left for Geoff?
I thought you were going to spare us the whining and self-loathing for a while.
I gave it my best shot.
Has it occurred to you that it's not a competition? That you don't have to match anything? Has it occurred to you that the simple confluence of you, a cheap camera, one light and the profound majesty of the unclothed human body might, if only by accident, yield something wonderful?
Like those monkeys writing King Lear?
Exactly.
Can I get an orange gel?
I think you're missing the point.
And the point is?
The point is something along the lines of: "Man up and stop whining."
Easy for you to say. You're the fucking Greek Chorus.
It's that Obama picture, isn't it.
I can't stand the mouth.
Of course you can't stand the mouth. The mouth is your weakest link. You always hate the mouth.
And then it turns out okay, right?
Sometimes, yes.
Oy.
Nicw work with the Gucci ad, though.
Yeah. Who knew?

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