Reconfiguration of the Female Nude, 2019

Oil paint on canvas

Dimensions: 45" x 30"

Image courtesy of the artist

Victoria Sauer

Chattanooga, Tennessee

My work scrutinizes the unspoken and overlooked experiences of everyday life, the moments residing within a level of reality that we find familiar but frequently ignore. I am investigating the coexistence between wake life and sleep life, and the commonplace subject matter that often goes unnoticed in both levels of consciousness. Driven by the idea that dreams are complementary and continuous to waking thought processes, my careful observations from reality as well as diligent recollections from dreams aim to create a dialogue with each other, both connected by the same relevant memories and experiences from past to present. As dreams continue to process the same information from our waking lives in a more rudimentary visual language, I seek to bring attention to this intersection of the ordinary and the uncanny, the everyday and the absurd, the real and the surreal. It is at this point of convergence where we begin to question whether we are awake or asleep. By responding to my own experience of reality, I hope to open up a point of access to the viewer, following the notion that we are all living our own separate lives, but unified together in the shared experience of human existence—the collective unconscious.

Nude figure painting has experienced many social and ethical problems since its conception in art historical periods, whether it be idealizing the human body (typically women) to an unrealistic standard, painting women for men, discounting the model or sitter’s agency, etc. It raises the question: How do we as artists treat nude figure painting as an art form in contemporary times? Lynda Nead, female writer and art historian, suggests the artist “investigate the ways in which women’s bodies are represented and promote new bodily images and identities.”

There is an imbalance of visual attention distributed throughout the figure in history as viewers tend to sexualize certain body parts over others, taking it out of its artistic form as a whole. My aim with this painting is to approach a classical nude pose from a different perspective by using the modern tools of the camera to shift the viewer’s attention around the figure to areas often unconsidered upon viewing. By painting from a collage of several zoomed-in, cropped, or enlarged photographs I have taken of a model, it creates a sort of composite portrait of details and parts of a body that may even be obscured for a brief moment by their cropping or lack of spatial context. My intent is for these creases, folds, and hidden moments found within the figure between finger webbing and chipped toenail polish to be brought to light, maintaining equivalent visual value to any other bodily counterpart.