Gerry Fox: Nudes Moving
Art that does what it says on the tin – they are nudes, and they are moving. Supposedly the difference between nudity and nakedness is that nude, a body is an art object, whereas naked, it is an exposed person.
Gerry Fox takes as his starting point painted nudes by Egon Schiele and August Rodin. These early 20th century works express intensity and a twisted eroticism, and were considered grotesque and disturbing in their day. Fox recreates the compositions and has filmed models to bring the scenes to life. Impressively produced and presented as framed paintings, hidden tech allows the moving image to play slowly on loop.
The nudes wear painted cloth and stockings to add to the illusion, and each work has been digitally manipulated to add painterly qualities relating to its original.
It’s hard to place exactly where these works lie – they are not soft porn, nor art photography. The nudes move, and touch each other, yet devoid of the context and intensity of the original paintings. What is left is a more benign visual surface rather than a reworking of the paintings’ meaning. Schiele and Rodin were complex and somewhat tortured, expressing those feelings in their paintings. Gerry Fox drops the angst and does not guess at the inner life of the women on display.
The gallery has tinted its windows for this exhibition so that onlookers are spared the sight of nudes. There are issues here – all the nudes are female, and the exhibition is almost a definition of the male gaze. That’s not necessarily a criticism, but it remains unclear what Gerry Fox adds to the debate. Is it okay to show work without critical context? Feminism has happened over the last century, and the female nude is now a more politicised subject in art.
And can we mention the elephant in the room? The elephant is pubic hair. In nude paintings, the artist can balance the eye, and make the viewer look where the important elements are. Some of these videos rather distract the eye in the variety of shaving techniques on display. Just saying…
Gerry Fox is an artist film-maker who has made many films about artists, as well as multiscreen installation work. As such, he is used to large productions, and lists a team of collaborators and producers in this work. Certainly hypnotic, these beautiful nudes create gently moving paintings – perhaps the animation of a fantasy.
Nudes Moving is at Eleven Gallery, Victoria from 5th October 2012. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.