Her Secret Life


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Medium: Acrylic painting on canvas print of original black and white photograph by the artist.

Dimensions: 20x30x1.5″ (Gallery wrapped canvas – sides hand-painted by the artist – does not require framing)

Also available as a 2-part “diptych” piece (painting plus the photograph printed on a matching canvas of the same size). The diptych reveals the tension between the competing realities of the original photo and the subsequent interpretation of it in the painting. This also creates a more dramatic architectural-scale installation when displayed side by side.

The piece is called “Her Secret Life”. It may evolve into a series where I do paintings over canvas prints of my black and white photos and add words to create a new meaning. It is not specific to any woman in terms of its setting. Nor is it a specific dynamic between her and the viewer – they are not necessarily lovers for example.

What I was trying to do is to expose the inherent tension between viewing women as attractive (not just by men but also as a component of their own experience), and the complex lives that they lead. So while we can all appreciate the woman’s beauty, she still has to lead her full life which includes mundane day-to-day tasks. Her inner dialog is not always about being in the sexy/attractive mode (although I was not trying to imply anything about the quality of any implied sex she may be having).

The first impression is going to be strongly visual and direct (her body and its provocative air of sexual availability as expressed in the pose and the composition of my original photograph). But the subsequent interpretation of the words through our conscious and conceptual mind should create a dissonance through the juxtaposition, and make you question your own initial evaluation of her strictly from the perspective of desirability or beauty.

To be clear, I don’t have a “patriarchy” axe to grind. Yes, women are objectified, but much of that originates at the biological level as men are the more visual initiators and look for clear markers of mating fitness (such as age, physical condition, and attractiveness). Again, that is not to say that there are not negative social and personal effects of this in our culture that need to be mitigated – so please don’t go there. But the purpose of my exploration is how women have to fully function, while still inhabiting a body that others viscerally find attractive on first approach.