The group exhibit at the Jackson Junge Gallery was labeled Seduction. It includes about twenty-six works of paintings, collages, sculptures, and photographs. It was interesting to see different peoples’ interpretations of seduction and sexuality. You would think that going into an exhibition about sex, you would see the same thing over and over again, but it was exactly the opposite. As we have been raised to view sex in one particular way, this exhibit emphasizes the different new ways we can view sex and sexuality.
The works that spoke to me were those that made me question not only meaning but technique. When I went for the first turn in the exhibition I saw Ken Wilson’s collage Look, Fellows. It was a 25” by 19” mixed media collage. It consisted of what it looks like to be magazine and pornographic cut outs. What first caught my attention was the obvious nude woman in the middle of the collage, along with the saturated colors of yellow, pink, blue, and red. At first, I believed that this piece didn’t really scream “seduction to me.” Then I knew that it was because I wasn’t a man. The piece was clearly targeted for a male audience. The title itself Look, Fellows implies that this has more of a connection to makes than females. Am I mad at this? Absolutely not. This piece is an obvious representation of seduction and how the media has manipulated our thoughts and perceptions of naked women and sex. Ken Wilson had two other works displayed but to further emphasize this idea of sex and the media I would like to talk a little about his collage Guarantee Policy. The three works together almost seemed like a triptych. However, I realized that they had different names. Ken Wilson’s work reminded me a lot about the Richard Hamilton’s Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? collage. Wilson manipulates the media the same way Hamilton does. With that being said, we can clearly see that Wilson tries to challenge our perception of the porn industry and the extent in which it serves as an influence to people and their definitions of sex. Not only that, but Wilson used this idea of porn to emphasize the portrayal of women as sex objects and sex workers.
The work itself is jaw dropping. Photographs do not give Wilson’s art works any justice. The color hues are just not the same in photographs as they are in person. The works are aesthetically pleasing for me as they may not be for others. The meaning behind these works and the fact that they are in an exhibit called Seduction really makes you question the meaning of it.
The second artist I was in awe with was Beata Chrzanowska. Her work Simple Math was the kind of seduction I was familiar with. The work was acrylic on canvas and was 33.5” by 27”. The reason I say this was the most familiar to me is because it is a lot subtler. It whispers love and passion, not just lust. A lot of that has to do with the colors Beata chose to use. The range from vibrant to very soft and pastel. The movement in the painting itself is very slow. It definitely slows your brain down and also slows down your eyes as you really need to appreciate the details and brush work on the middle and upper left part of the painting. Everything makes sense to me. The way Beata chose to show this side of a female really makes women seem vulnerable. This is a different kind of seduction than we saw in Wilson’s work. It’s less in your face and it makes it a bit harder to find something that connects this work to the media. It simply doesn’t. This work speaks more on the aspects of the human body and our appreciation of it. Why are we so seduced by such thing? Because it is beautiful. Beata captures this beauty in the same way Georgia O’Keeffe captures the beauty of a female. It is a very romanticized approach to seduction and Beata might be starting a conversation of why sex can’t be a viewed like this. It might be a message to the viewer to appreciate sex, to appreciate the body you’re connecting with, and to turn on the lights every now and then.
Another one of Beata’s works was the reason I even attended this gallery show. The work is called Duel/Duet. It is an acrylic and oil paint on canvas, approximately 26” by 26”. This work, in my opinion, is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s work. It’s full of color. In the painting color is one of the important components that provokes an emotion in the viewer. May it be positive or negative? I’m not sure. For me, it was in between both. This painting might be representing this controversial issue the world has forever been afraid of: homosexuality. As we can see in the painting, we cannot tell the gender of either of these figures. We are left with the question of whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. What does this do to the viewer? It excludes those who might not be okay with homosexuality. However, it also includes them. It opens their mind to this kind of attraction and makes them see that this kind of seduction is no different than others. Another aspect that further supports this theory is that there are dark shadows in the faces of these two figures. The dark shadows can represent the mysteriousness of the act. This unforbidden love. All of my life I have seen homosexual couples hide their love in public. It is truly sad that they have to face discrimination based on who they love and who they choose to marry. This painting does nothing but makes me understand and appreciate love, sex, and sexuality in all of its tangents.
The exhibition itself was successful and opened my mind in how to perceive sex and what I define as “seductive.” My sexuality shouldn’t limit what I see as seductive and sexy. It shouldn’t limit my thoughts on beauty and sex. As an artist or as an art critic, sometimes we need to step away from the conceptualized frameworks of society. We need to step away from the “categories” that defines us. Sometimes we need to not have a gender or a sexual orientation. We sometimes even need to be homosexual or transgender. We need to be open minded in order to truly appreciate someone’s art and message to the viewers. The exhibit helps start building that awareness of who you are and the different people that surround you. Now that’s seductive.
(Visit http://www.j2gallery.com/ if you are interested in buying the works.)