This is a lecture from my last show, Intimate Renditions, the art of Alan Reeve
The art you see here today represents a collection of some of my work from about the last ten years. As you can see, they deal with one of my favorite subjects: the female. I find the female subject to not only be an endless source of beauty, grace, poise, and elegance, but she also brings with her an entire mythology. Throughout art history she has been depicted as a Goddess, idol, icon, temptress, the female form brings it all to the table.
Unfortunately, there are those who would look at my art and take offense. I can understand this to a degree; I don’t believe all art appeals to all people. But, I am forever running into issues over “the nudity.” I am deeply concerned over censorship with any art and I fear that current attitudes are taking their toll on artist and their work. My wife and I often enjoy going to galleries. We see all types of art; paintings of plants, landscapes, whimsy, designs, animals, abstracts. We frequently make the comment to one another about how we very seldom see representations of the human figure.
This got me to thinking, what if present day attitudes existed 500 years ago during the Renaissance? Had Da Vinci not been able to study human anatomy so closely and intently, we may have never seen his famous fresco, “The Last Supper.” Many people’s modern day image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, would not exist if not for Raphael’s series of Madonnas. Yet, Raphael was probably more influenced by the beauty of the local young maidens for his Madonnas, than actual historical accuracy. Imagine looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, and instead of finding a glorious depiction of ideal human forms, seeing that Michelangelo had painted a field of flowers? Surely, all would agree that these works... are triumphs in the world of art. If we ever had the opportunity to be in their presence... I believe we truly would be humbled.
I sometimes wonder if the issue then is not nudity, but a fear of our own humanity. For instance, today instead of going to visit our friends, we conveniently call them on the cell phone. Instead of going to the library with our kids we send them to their room to do research on the Internet. Instead of the family car, everyone has his or her own vehicle. Setting down with the family at the table for dinner has all but disappeared. Words of human interaction like “thank you, please, and excuse me,” seem to be disappearing. We are even uncomfortable with eye contact with one another. In our modern society, we think every stranger is a potential threat. During the Renaissance, humanity was being celebrated, now it seems we can’t be far enough away from each other.
I by no means am claiming to be the next Michelangelo. But I do try to capture the humanity in my subject. I create what I consider to be an ideal feminine form, done in graphite or charcoal. Sometimes I try to tell a human story, perhaps depict an expression or a thought, or just a quiet moment in time. I try to show the viewer the beauty that I see, from a lifetime of studying art and the human figure.
So I encourage you today to really look at my art. Don’t be afraid. Look at the models eyes, her expression, what was she thinking? Study the technique I use, the lines I use to make the face, the way I use tones to push and pull the figure, the stroke of my pencil.
This is a unique opportunity to enjoy the splendor of what I see in the female form. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy... my intimate renditions.