For the second consecutive year, the Lexington Art League is presenting its revived figure — aka nude — show, but it’s intentionally not your father’s nude show.
“In the contemporary context, he wanted to examine who is creating figurative works,” Art League Director Stephanie Harris says of Daniel Pfalzgraf, curator of “Demographically Speaking, a Figurative Exhibition,” which opens Friday and runs through Feb. 19 at the Loudoun House galleries.
“In a lot of galleries and museums, you’re seeing the male artist creating the female figure and looking at that through kind of that male gaze perspective.
“What he wanted to do was be a little bit more inclusive of that, to open up the boundaries a little bit broader.”
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This year’s figure show offers a diverse ensemble of images from a diverse group of artists, portraying the figure in a variety of settings, some naked, many fully clothed.
The subjects range from plywood cutouts of people in art museums by Tennessee artist Denise Stewart-Sanabria to watercolors of police mugshots by Kentucky artist Dick Dougherty to swatches representing skin by Hayla Ragland to a scene of an intimate sex act from a pornographic movie recreated on a quilt.
“She identifies herself as a Christian,” Harris says of the latter image by Kentucky artist Jennifer Hart, “and she actually creates this work as a means to diffuse the power of pornography. She takes these scenes from movies and turns them into pieces of art.
“They’re all quilted, and what she’s doing is she’s taking away the power that it has in-and-of itself in digital format and putting it into this soft, patterned context. So it’s not to, in her view, perpetuate that. But two people in an intimate situation is just that.”
Our space is working with contemporary artists in the context of now.
Stephanie Harris, Lexington Art League director
Citing the quilted piece as an example, Harris says it’s important to know where the artist is coming from, and the exhibit will give background of the artists with their work.
“There were seven questions each artist had to complete on the survey: obviously age, race, gender, sexual orientation, education, any kind of disability they had, because he wanted to see the evidence and be able to show evidence of those things in their work,” Harris says.
“So for the opening, we’ll have all of that demographic information by the works, so people can start drawing their own conclusions. We’ll also have an interactive board during the exhibition cycle so every patron can answer those questions, and at the end, we’ll see where the densities lie, not only with our artists but within our audience.”
Pieces range from the seriousness of Christopher Troutman’s expansive “Kagoshima Overpass” to figure works that dispense with the figure: Hayward Wilkirson’s silhouette image of pants down around a person’s ankles with no person and James Southard’s video installation that has the sound of breathing so loud you start looking for Darth Vader when you enter the gallery, but the image is just some clothing and accessories rising and falling with the sound.
While the Art League is happy to be presenting the figure again, Harris say the effort will be to keep the show in line with the group’s central mission.
She says, “Our space is working with contemporary artists in the context of now.”
If you go
‘Demographically Speaking, a Figurative Exhibition’
What: The Lexington Art League’s annual figure show
When: Jan. 27-Feb. 19
Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri., 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
Fourth Friday party: Opening reception with live figure drawing sessions, music by DJ Leeroy and food and drink from Sweet LiLu’s 6-9 p.m. Jan. 27. Admission is $5, free for students with ID