Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Comparing two nudes by Unichi Hiratsuka

Since discovering this wonderful artist at the start of last summer, I've written about Unichi Hiratsuka's landscapes, one color, natural one, and one black and white, urban one. At we end this summer, it seems about the right time to take a look at a couple of his figures. As with the two landscapes I wrote about before, I feel these two by comparison really show the range of the artist's interests and skills.

In this first, color print, I feel the model is particularly aware of the artist (and indirectly, the audience's) gaze. Though she leans back in the chair, she holds her legs together, her arms against her chest. He muscles tighten and she seems uncomfortable. I can feel her holding the pose, waiting for the moment to pass. She stares straight ahead with an expression so blank she appears more like a doll than a person, or just someone wearing a mask. The bright, garishly contrasting colors add to the plastic qualities of the image. The screaming yellow wall, unnatural green floor, they draw further attention to this awkward, self-conscious woman, and get us to stare at her longer, wondering at what thoughts are behind her mask.

This second nude has an altogether different feel. Again, I feel as if the model is aware of our gaze, but this time she wears an impish grin as she coyly looks down, her long hair swishing around the curve of her cheek and neck. I am convinced that if she locked eyes with the artist, she'd smile. Instead of holding completely still, she seems ready to move at any moment, to either climb down, or lean back, or just to breath as she patiently waits for the artist to finish capturing an image of her.  There is a mask here, too, but it is mounted on the wall behind her, and monstrously grins, bearing huge teeth. The tiles and other framing her body remind me of layered drum beats. Her heart thumps, blood courses through her veins...

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