Avoiding The Subject

Galleria Italia, AGO’s “showcase of wood and glass that runs the entire length of the gallery’s second level, ” is filled with beautiful people, stand-dancing to the beats of DJ Max Mohenu. They drink decent spirits from clear plastic cups, scoping out other art-lovers. At one end of the room, there’s an oyster bar, where shucking and slurping are riling up the masses. At the other end, is a nude model, Paris Black, surrounded by a dozen hardwood sketching stations, each with its own audience-artist, putting their own work on display. Most of them still hold their drink in their other hand.

Fully formed images of Black’s well-lit body are lined up on the flipped paper of drawing pads. Each book is filled with multiple interpretations of this same model. Meticulously shaded muscles, skillfully placed shadows and highlights; these drawings are incredibly well done.  The one thing that ties them all together, though, is that they are missing the very component of their subject that we all notice first.  His penis.

Some do give it some attention, but not in the same detail in which they capture his muscles and his position. They draw his pout and his intense eyes. Some even manage to show his pained expression on his quivering face. Some capture the brittleness of his nearly white hair and the fact that his incredibly fit body is also well used.

I look around and notice how many people hold their phones in front of them, digitally capturing the same image that the people in front of them are putting to paper. Their cameras will be filled with images of this man’s penis, but in the curation of the final works created in this live, nude-model drawing session, that which is most photographed will be least drawn.

The live, nude modelling sessions have been popular at both of AGO’s First Thursdays, but there’s something more than just voyeurism and creation happening. I can’t quite figure it out yet, but I would love to know what others think about these experiences, and also to see an exhibit where all the drawings from these nights are on display, possibly in comparison to all the camera-phone shots that people are willing to submit.  I wonder which would make us feel closer to the interpretation of the ‘human form’?

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Evan Penny exhibit…

The next First Thursday is December 6th… get your tickets as soon as they announce it, because they always sell out.


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