In Wendy Artin's new exhibition, Révèle, the American artist explores absence, beauty and the corporeal in her representation of the human form.
Révèle brings together 57 pieces in watercolour, charcoal and chalk on white or brown paper capturing both live models and statues, all caught in a fleeting glance that belies stunning craft.
They reflect an ongoing conversation around stone and flesh that Artin has pursued as one of the world's most brilliant watercolourists, while pushing her into new technical achievements.
"Artin's work oscillates between the effortless grace of the human body asked not to move and the stillness of marble that craves to move," says André Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name.
The collection also includes stunning watercolours of summer figs and peaches, which Artin captures in all their juicy decadent flesh.
"If you thought the peach in Call Me By Your Name was desirable, check out Wendy Artin's," says Aciman. In his latest book Find Me, he also shares and appreciation with Artin for the most ambrosial fruit of all, the fig.
In Révèle, Artin shows fragments of the human body, allowing the viewer to imagine the rest. The light chalk or brushwork adds to our sense of a fleeting glimpse, caught in time.
"Having the information be just barely there, almost there, or suggested, allows for breath, for relief," says Artin.
"The space to breathe has always been for me the white of the paper," she says. "Using brown paper instead meant doing something different. I wanted them to look as if they had just happened, like, poof! The white chalk barely grazing the surface before flitting off again, like pollen."
Fragments reveal, give meaning, beauty, perhaps unease. Here the human body is present in all its pulsating life, its joy and fragility. The live models are in voluptuous poses, sprawled out after merriment and bacchanal.
"They're a celebration of our round bodies, velvety torsos, our smooth skin reflecting who we are in all our lovable fascinating seductive selves. All too often hung shamefully in the bedroom or bathroom, we need to liberate the nude," she said.
Artin lives with her family in Rome. The once upon a time nomad arrived there 25 years ago, where she would start a rock collection in hopes of weighing her down to one spot.
"I still think about those rocks when I think of the materials that I use. The rocks are the chalk and the charcoal. Watercolour is like flesh, while charcoal and chalk are hard and cold, but give the illusion of light and depth and warmth," says Artin.
The Eternal City provides one side of the coin in the fountain for Artin, with its classicism and its eloquent light being a constant companion.
And if nudes can cause the eye to avert, statues invite closer inspection. With all Artin's work, the viewer is drawn in and up close rewarded: the illusion vanishing into the abstraction of chalk dust or the residue of pigment from watercolour evaporated.
"Stone imitates flesh in statues, and then again once removed is the watercolor or charcoal imitating the light on the stone that imitates flesh," she said.
Adam and Eve may have used their leaves to cover up, but there's nothing modest about the most ambrosial fruit of all, the fig. Artin captures the juicy decadent flesh with visually stunning watercolours of figs from the summer harvest.
Statues and live models, motion and stillness, anatomy and light, fragments asking questions of absences, Artin's latest exhibition will please her current admirers and surely bring her new fans.
Gurari Collections, 460 Harrison Avenue, Boston MA 02118, +1 (617) 367-9800, gurari.com
Opening: November 1, 2019 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Exhibit: November 1 - December 9, 2019
Contact: Russ Gerard email@example.com
* * *
Meanwhile, last shown in Paris and at the PAD Fair in London, Parthenon Frieze paintings from Athens...
Wendy Artin, Athens Parthenon 1, Horsemen and Marshal, 108 x 133 cm, watercolor on handmade rag paper, 2016
* * *
Here are some recent writings about my work:
Click here to see a beautiful article written by Stephen Berry for his blog on watercolor, Seamless Expression, May 2017.
Click here to read Craggy Face, by James Cogswell, from the academic workshop: Wendy Artin's Engagement with the Classical Past, Kelsey Museum, October 2015.
To read a beautiful article about my Parthenon Frieze series, click here Wendy Artin -- Translating Marble Onto Paper, article by Grace Dane Mazur the Arts Fuse, November 2011 (click on box in upper left-hand corner to read black text on white background)
Read Poet Jessica Fisher's sensitive and eloquent Introduction, Being in Time, written for the catalogue for the 2015 exhibition at Gurari Collections, From the Roman Studio.
Rocks, Paper, Memory: Wendy Artin's Watercolor Paintings of Ancient Sculpture, the 2015 Exhibition at the Kelsey Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan, featuring more Parthenon frieze paintings, is now entirely on-line.
Wendy Artin, Laura On Stomach, 27 x 37 cm, watercolor, 2018