Saturday 15th April

Art - The Chalk Gallery

There are certain situations in our society in which adults can take their clothes off in front of strangers. In public showers, in designated areas like nudist beaches, in Spencer Tunick photos. In most other situations, however, public nudity is generally considered shocking, and even illegal. In the western world it is linked inextricable with sexual taboo, and the notion of original sin. In representational art, however, nudity is commonplace. There are nude statues in public spaces, nude portraits in public galleries. In Lucian Freud’s world, everyone walks around naked, and nobody minds. The artist has a licence to be a voyeur, and you are allowed to look through their eyes. Why should this be? Does something about the artistic process transcend our normal social taboos?

This thought springs to mind when you view the latest hanging at the Chalk Gallery, entitled ‘Spring to Life’. To painters, of course, ‘life painting’ means ‘nude painting’ and so nearly half the exhibits are nudes. There are large, painterly oil nudes. There are watercolour nudes, their body folds mapped out by conflicting shades of blue, green and yellow. There’s a Gauguinesque tropical nude and a seemingly abstract picture in red, black and white, which on closer inspection turns out to be two nudes, one reclining. There are paintings of women by men, of men by women, and of women by women. Perhaps tellingly there are none of men by men. It’s not shocking, and not erotic, but it is strangely compelling, to see all that nakedness, dressed up as art. AL

The shock of the nude: Spring to Life at the Chalk Gallery.
Painting by Sue Barnes
Chalk Gallery, North St, Lewes
When? 10am-5pm
How Much? Free entry. Painting prices vary.
Chalk Gallery
(w) Website
(t) 01273 474477