Gardens of the Pure in the museum’s northeast galleries brings together three artists whose collages and drawings make use of watercolor, gouache, pen, and paint to portray nudes in direct, sensuous, and occasionally disquieting styles. Eros and Thanatos, sexuality, eroticism, the body’s beauty and awkwardness are all integral themes in each artist’s work. Often explicit, even uncomfortably so, while alternately entirely unobjectionable, Brophy, Kohlmann and Mackler, individually divergent, reverse the proverbial “male gaze,” in the service of intensely personal, psychologically charged images that can be playful and sweet. All three powerfully confront taboo, societal unease, and long-held prejudices against women making art of this kind. The intergenerational aspect of the exhibition is a testament to the continuity of universal themes and the essential importance of facets of human nature that are often seen as uncomfortable or inappropriate, as well as evidence of an understated feminine aesthetic solidarity across the age divide. Formally sophisticated, with line, color, and shape as important as subject matter, the artists gathered together here refute small-minded outlooks with works that cover the spectrum from uncompromising, punishing, and frank to humorous, humane, and stimulating.
Gardens of the Pure Didactics & Map
Images by Maya Heilman-Hall