Canvas :: Naked at Jenson Gallery

May 2nd 2011


Given the title of the new collective exhibition at Jenson Gallery, Naked, I was expecting to be blown away with images of voluptuous flesh, racy poses and inspiring debates of nude versus naked. In fact, what I saw were many well-established artists and a series of interesting nudes. I guess I was hoping for something just a bit raunchier.

With the recent Senate enquiry into censorship of art in Australia, this exhibit could not come at a better time. Serving as a kind of slap in the face to the Christian coup, Naked breaths a sigh of defiance against absurd claims for art to be classified the same way films are.

One of my favourite works was Alyssa Monks' Vapor showing the female torso from behind a shower curtain. This is the first work you see upon entering and immediately creates that feeling of voyeurism further explored throughout the exhibit. Lying in the middle of the room is the delicately beautiful body of Chloe by Sam Harrison. This life-size nude is heavily pregnant, adding a new dimension to the body, as a cocoon for life. The use of white plaster makes her appear all the more pure, reminding me somewhat of a modern day Virgin Mary.

Complimenting Harrison’s work perfectly is the edgiest work of the exhibit by Marina Abramovic, Nude with Skeleton. This video art piece is an ongoing shot of Abramovic’s naked body weighed down by a life-size human skeleton. Her body lies parallel as the mirror image to Harrison’s plastered and pure Chloe. I found this work quite confronting; watching Abramovic’s naked body breathing deeply questions the body as an object in time.

Other featured artists are Tracy Emin, Lucien Freud and Bill Henson. With such a stellar line-up I guess I thought I was going to be amazed with the progression of nudes in art. In some ways the exhibit accomplished this, but in others it felt a bit stale, there weren’t enough fresh, daring works to really leave me thunderstruck.

Definitely check out the exhibit for a chance to view some terrific artworks by incredibly talented artists and to give the metaphorical finger to the Senate enquiry, but I wouldn’t go to look for fresh approaches on the subject of the naked in art.


What: Naked

Where: Jenson Gallery, 3 – 5 Caledonia St, Paddington

When: Tues – Fri 11am – 5pm, Saturday 11am – 2pm until June 8th

How much: Free



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