Classical Paintings of Sensual Women
Women have been the subject of fine art throughout history.
It an artists calling to express what he or she finds most compelling. For me, it is painting the female form in a such a way that I am most drawn to: the strength of sensuality.
Paintings of women have always grabbed my attention. I've journeyed through many heated discussions, usually with other women in art classes, where I've been asked if my recurring taste is merely a reaction to societal programming. I should assume that to some, my paintings perpetuate the offense similar to a Victoria's Secret catalog or any number of billboards where society is being fed an unrealistic standard of beauty for women.
I understand all of this. I enjoy the beauty of airbrushed models and unrealistic standards. I also enjoy the beauty of reality where skin is not always smooth and taught, or bellies are not perfectly flat and breasts not perfectly buoyant. As I have expressed in those old conversations, my paintings of women are not idealizations. If they are seen that way, it is a problem with the viewer and not the artist.
My paintings express what I am most attracted to. When I look at my wife, even when she is wearing sagging, grey sweat pants and her hair is a mess, I see a tremendous beauty of sensuality, sexuality and grace.
I relish in what I find sexy. I want to build a monument to lip-biting zest in all of life. I am completely in awe of a woman's mix of vulnerability and strength, and this happens most dynamically in a moment of sensual grace.
Fortunately, I have a wife who embodies this, despite her belief that she doesn't. She is often amazed that I can see so much beauty in her while she may feel unattractive. Regardless of how she feels, I see her (as well as much in life) as Michealangelo saw the stone from which he carved David. Michaelangelo, when asked how he created David, answered that he merely chiseled away the bits that were not David. The point is to see past what others may deem as imperfections, and perceive the entire package that is complete and utter beauty.
For me, this causes me to paint what is prevalent. I don't purposely omit imperfections. I am not airbrushing out blemishes. My art is about expressing a moment that captivates my attention.
It's interesting to me that many, if not most, of my collectors are women. From the criticism I receive, you would think my work sells as an expensive pin-up calendar to perverted men.
I am grateful that there are so many people who are elevated from societal norms and the pressure from both advertisers programming as well as idealist offenses, that what I find as beautiful can be shared, and that my art can find a home.
If you find yourself wavering between offense and acceptance, I encourage you to ask yourself: what is true for you? Is the offense of which you may feel your own belief or that of others you've bought into at one time? It's okay if it's yours. Just make sure that it is. The same goes with what you find attractive.
You don't have to come to a conclusion on the matter just now. In fact, it's best to not think your way through it, but merely ask yourself the question, and see what your instinct comes up with.
Whenever I have wondered if I should not paint other things more, like men or children or even just women not being sensual, my gut response is to immediately create an even more sensual piece of art than ever before. Strange, isn't it?
- Matt Abraxas