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The Naked Eye and the Nude Male

by Sandro Kortekaas in Theatre, Art & Expo , 20 juli 2016


In the theme exhibition “My Naked Eye,” gallery MooiMan presents seven artists showing the naked man in photography, video, and installations. The nude male still is a controversial subject. In the turn of history, nudity in art, but also in public space, has always triggered extreme emotions - admiration, desire, passion, jealousy, contempt, discrimination, and hatred...

But nowadays, we mostly see the naked female, often seductive, in media and commercials and on billboards. In the street scene of our world of consumption, nudity through clothing is having a comeback. The naked eye hardly notices it anymore.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the seductive female were to be replaced by a man for one day, which is exactly what this gallery has been doing for nearly ten years, showing male (nude) art which should be part of day-to-day life.

At this show, seven international artists - including four artists that are new to the gallery - show their admiration of the nude male. In this article, three of those artists speak out.

‘To me, nudity is the purest thing there is’

Maurice Nuiten, Master’s at St. Joost: “We all have in common that we’re born naked. By stripping the body from clothing, I take away class and make it universal. Gender or sexual orientation is not important for me. I view the body as an archetype for mankind. I mostly use myself or people who are close to me, keeping it as simple and honest as possible. I want to communicate about men taking this archetype as a starting point, not the overly sexual bodies we are confronted with on a daily basis. That’s unrealistic, not real or pure.”


 
‘Masked nudity as a reflection on our daily life’
 

Luke Darko, lives and works in Paris, France: “By shooting the series of portraits ‘La Mascarade,’ I wanted to show what true nudity is for me: the abandonment of the role. Any man’s nakedness is there. Raw. True. Not when he undresses his body; when he removes his rags in the mirror. My clowns are not clowns. First, they are not funny. They do not laugh, they are not frightening either. They are not intended to terrorize the part of childhood so present in all of us.”

“‘The Masquerade’ is a reflection on the mask that we compose ourselves daily before going out of our box and play the great spectacle of life. At the great masquerade, we’re all ‘make-up artists.’ We patiently build the image of our character(s). Step by step. Key by key. They are not all great alibis, sometimes just small compromises with reality. We take care so every morning we cover our most perfect shell. The world around us, our family, our friends, our community, everyone pushes us to wear this outfit. Because we seek to be loved; we must be integrated, respected, recognized. We exist by the applause that we trigger, the laughs that we cause, the ‘likes’ that we have achieved.”
 
“But when the mask takes over the being, from a burst of laugh of the clown mask, you find yourself trapped in an iron mask. Like Dorian Gray remained young and beautiful, the painting gets old and blacken. One day, the mask falls. And the deep-being shows up. I decided to tear the curtain of decorum, and present people about to peel off their make-up: the eyes a little fuzzy after a long day of representation. I propose to go beyond our appearances to see what lies behind. And in this masquerade, masks are not as complex as the characters.”


‘Nudity as Empowerment’

Ron Amato lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, USA: “A box is used to trap something. A box is used to hide something. You give a gift in a box. You ‘think outside the box.’ You ‘open Pandora’s box.’ For my project, ‘The Box,’ I use boxes as vehicles for expressing different stages of my life as a gay man. The object at once represents an obstacle and a tool for acceptance and pride. The project is divided into eight sections that follow the arch of my life from isolation to empowerment. Along the way I grappled with adversity and conflict, longed to be love, found ways to satiate my desires, eventually connecting with a community and becoming empowered.”
 
“The development was relatively slow at first. I analyzed the results of each shoot, looking for visual clues that evoke emotions associated with my personal journey, and learning how they related to each other. I used old boxes that showed signs of damage from age and use. I constructed new boxes, at first raw and unfinished, then adding finish in stages until the imperfections were almost eliminated.”

This set of images involved the collaboration of over thirty men. I purposely selected individuals who would represent a diversity of ages, cultures, races and lifestyles. We started each shoot discussing the themes of the project and what I was trying to communicate. Initial images involved the men interacting with a box, each bringing their own voice to the project.

It was very much like performance, each bringing a uniqueness of physicality to the interaction. The dynamics shifted constantly as I put men together who were strangers, lovers, husbands, friends and co-workers. I rarely intervened until I could encourage them to explore exchanges more deeply. As the project progressed, I was able to fine tune my communication with the models to get very specific results, having found words to reflect ideas that resonated with me since the beginning of the project.”

“The interpretation of images is personal. What one might see as conflict, another might view as connection. There is a fine line between isolation and longing. Community often grows out of desire. Processes are fluid and often non-linear. Yet, no matter how expressed, the struggles of betterment are deeply felt by us all, regardless of the distinctions of our own stories.”


  MORE INFO  

The exhibition “My Naked Eye” originally open until July 17, 2016, may be extended to August. See the website for a meet & greet with American photographer Ron Amato, who will travel to the Netherlands for this event. “My Naked Eye” shows works by Ron Amato (USA), Ewoud Broeksma (Netherlands) Luke Darko (France) Fedya Ili (Germany / France / Russia), Alexander Kargaltsev (USA) Maurice Nuiten (Netherlands), and Johan van Walsem (Netherlands). The book “Dubbelaars / Doubles II” by photographer Ewoud Broeksma has been published in the exhibition’s running period. This book, which is the ninth production of the gallery, is for sale at the gallery as well as selected book stores. See www.mooi-man.nl for more details and the opening times of the gallery, www.mooi-man.nl



 







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