This series of paintings are watercolors depicting models from Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. The roles of gender and sex in advertising are examined in these works. Viewers are presented with images of idealized beauty which are used to sell a product (swimwear) that is secondary or in some instances non-existent. We are reminded that there is a designer swimsuit for sale by the captions accompanying each photo. These visual definitions of beauty manipulate our desires and reinforce our insecurities.
The process I employ with my watercolors departs from the established method. The paintings are done vertically as opposed to being laid flat. This allows for more spontaneity. I let colors drip, which in turn forces me to react. The female figures are rendered realistically but there is a level of distortion to them. The looseness with which they are painted further enforces the notion that what we are seeing is not real. These models are modern day odalisques, invented ideals of beauty which other women should aspire to look like and men should aspire to possess as objects.
The portrayal of women has been revisited throughout the history of art. Their sexuality is a source of inspiration from Classical to contemporary artists. Everyone from Rubens to Ingres, Matisse and Picasso, to Currin and Yuskavage have explored the subject. The context through which their work was conceived and is viewed is the constant variable. My works are borne from the ever-expanding age of consumerism in which we live.
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