Paintings of naked women, usually by clothed men, are suddenly sitting very uncomfortably on gallery walls. Male artists wonder whether they can work with the female form, while the world questions what their intentions were in the first place. By Michael Slenske. And the question of the moment has become: Is it still an artistically justifiable pursuit for a man to paint a naked woman? To answer this question, I reached out to a number of prominent male artists known for doing just that as well as for painting nude men. Presumably, they worried about unintentionally saying the wrong thing that would then echo endlessly across social media, damaging their reputations. For emerging artists, there is the fear of a possibly career-derailing gestalt fail.
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Part III: Dueling Gazes
Warning: This post contains full-frontal male nudity and may be inappropriate for work environments. Sure, depicting a naked body can lead to objectification and sexualization as women can surely attest. But a powerful nude representation also has the power to be empowering, liberating, and, of course, beautiful. In , photographer Abigail Ekue embarked on a mission to photograph the unclothed male body in a truthful, expressive and direct manner, a style Ekue saw was lacking in the larger cultural lexicon. Her project is open to all men over 21, including trans men, regardless of race, body type, tattoos, piercings, or whatever else. From the start, it was important to Ekue that she capture the entire male form from head to toe, so the images resist becoming either too sexualized or too romanticized.
Growing up in a small Japanese town where traditionally women were encouraged to be shy and quiet, Mari rebelled while others conformed. She left her village at 18, eventually venturing to New York in the hopes of finding a free-spirited community. For her latest project, Mari produces an erotically charged series of both male and female — mainly in black and white, her favourite medium. Speak Easy launches with an exhibition — running from 30 March to 15 April at the hpgrp Gallery in New York — and opening ceremony on 31 March from 6pm.