SHOULD WE STRIP?

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A month ago RELE caught my gaze with an interesting exhibition “Strip” a series of photography and paintings by intriguing Nigerian Artists; Logor, Kelechi Amadi, Reeze Bonna, Ayo Iwola and a couple of others. I found it quite interesting how the subject matter Nudity as an art was being perceived by the curators, some of the exhibitors and we who came to drown in the glow of artistic adventures … The issue of Painting and Photographing Male nudes against Female nudes inspired this piece.

Would like to lay down a universal fact first; beauty is in the eye of the beholder… as cliché as this sounds yet it serves as the base rock for many fascinations, ideas and creations all over the world. I would like to define beauty in this context as not just something refined, colourful or tasteful but rather appreciative, something that provokes a certain amount of emotion and reflections. As artists we are hardly responsible for whatever we create; it comes to us sometimes from a pool of experience, feelings or even an unconscious yet careful observation of the world we live in. But personally I believe it’s hard to define the origin of an artist’s imagination.

With that said certain questions need to be answered “Should we Strip?”  “Who should strip? Why shouldn’t i strip? And what does stripping even mean?”

Since way back 1900’s the concept of photographing male nudes has always been frowned upon and considered as derogatory because of its Homo erotic tendencies. A certain German Photographer Wilhelm Von Gloeden’s works played homage to this concept a lot, but in other to douse the Homo eroticism of most of his work the male models were either half clothed in togas, silician drapes or shot in outdoor settings, although some of his works were quite revealing. Most provocative ones were sold under the counter.

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This was years ago, today Artists around the world are taking a slight tug at this concept. During the Strip Exhibition, someone asked why Nigerian artists weren’t keying into painting or photographing Male nudes, if the possibility of photographing and painting a naked lady can drive home a certain notion why can’t the male nude be considered from that light. A couple of observations came to light, of course the issue of Nigeria being a country against homosexuality and any association to the ideology; another was the concept of appreciation and public opinion. Supposedly, if a male nude photograph or painting hung along the corridors of a Nigerian house or office; anyone coming to visit or see this would probably jump to a certain conclusion or leave with thons of questions popping up and about his or her head especially if the buyer of the art work is a man. On the other hand if it was a female art work he or she would probably just admire his taste in refined artwork and want to get a referral to were to get the same art piece. If a lady were to have a nude painting or photograph featuring a lady hung on her corridor, no one will draw irrational conclusion, rather the base of admiring the artwork will be left to the concept, beauty and notion of it, nothing about the sexuality will likely come up, the reverse is mostly the case for a man owning an artwork with naked man. It’s mostly an issue of public opinion, culture and societal impression. The sexuality is mostly thrown in first and a lot of male artists are probably aware of this, hence the low rate of male nudes here in Nigeria even when such paintings or photographs are created, it’s mostly passive and never as elaborated as the female nudes. While male nudes are considered in the light of pornography female nudes on the other hand are said to connote beauty, nature, societal values, experiences and sometimes divinity.

An interview with a Nigerian based Artist Kadara Enyeasi brought to light a certain notion, no one’s jaw drops at the sight of female nudes anymore you might be impressed by the concept and moved by the depth of the artist’s imagination but it might not provoke you as much as a male nude would.

If the world is getting tired of seeing female nudes, should the concept of male nudes be encouraged at least without the homo erotic tendencies?

More on this piece coming soon feel free to share your thoughts…

1 Comment

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