When observing Caillebotte’s interpretations of the human form we see a male figure that has been stripped of his heroic muscularity, giving way to a figure that shows a more vulnerable approach to the form.
Where the male figure was previously seen as an all seeing object, itself aware of your presence seen through his own glory, Caillebotte gives us a glimpse into the male’s bathroom, as we observe the figure. The male seems almost unaware of our presence, creating a sense of vulnerability of himself being “exposed”. The poses also go further to strengthen this stripping of power, as we can see through the figure that his feet are almost clamped to the floor, struggling to stand, married with a sense of weight in the gestures to lift his heavy arms.
Caillebotte also goes further into breaking down the conventional Utopian idea of the male figure in his 1875 painting “The Floor Scrapers”. Although we do see these bodies exerting power, through these stooped poses it can be considered demeaning to the figures, creating this previous exertion of power to be almost as if it was a struggle. With the conventions of the time, it was almost considered vulgar to convey to paint the working-class male in such a manner, and controversy had situated around the painting due to offering an alternative upheld male figure being the hero of antiquity.
When approaching hanging my work, there has been much deliberation in order to ask questions of how my work is going to be hung, why, and even which ones I am going to even decide on hanging. With 4 walls, all 8ft x 8ft in size, I originally came to the conclusion that there would be ample size to have 5 larger paintings across the walls, but once spaced out I came to the conclusion that there was not enough space between each painting to allow them to be seen on their own. With this issue in place, I had discussed with several tutors and colleagues on which ones to keep in, as many were felt that the Green had more emotion in mark-making and stronger brushstrokes, whilst some felt the Yellow had a more vulnerable ambiguity to the pose. I ultimately decided to go with the yellow as I felt it reflected what I was trying to achieve in my concept in terms of how the body sits within the space of the painting, as well as emphasising the humbling nature of the human form within the slumped posture. The space between my paintings and Gemma’s on the opposite side of the alcove became apparent when hanging, and it became clear that the works didn’t flow, so I introduced one of my smaller, square paintings to marry the two sides of the alcove.
When arranging the works, I have set them in an order which allows graduation of colour from yellow, to a complimentary purple on opposite walls. There is a strong contrast of tone from each painting, with good space to allow the eye to focus on each one. when hanging, I decided to raise the Yellow painting – placed in the corner to emphasise the space of the corner – higher than that of the blue next to it, in order to create the illusion of the two sitting on the same plane and becoming one, and emphasise them existing within space.
By dictating the shadow of the figure through its own angle, the flat purple background in which the figure sits upon becomes a room and the body occupies the space, reaffirming the body’s sculpted position on the plane as opposed a floating object.
The pose is leaning, as if to give a hints of the male figure struggling to stand, reflected in the heavy shoulders and firmly gripped hand. I have also implemented the pose in order to give connotations of the figure urinating against the wall. These suggestions are used in order to break down this omnipotence seen with previous male nudes, and to evoke the mundane human impulsions that although natural, are considered sordid and unnatural. The fact that we can see this private moment, of the figure appearing in this manner suggests vulnerability within the painting, as he is unaware of our presence.
With regards to the posture, the pose is composed of two separate images, after taking inspiration from Gustave Caillebotte’s “Man at his Bath”. The bottom half is reflective of Caillebotte’s figure, which takes this muscular entity and uses the broad, weighted shoulders and gripped feet to create a sense of vulnerability to the figure, contrary to previous male nudes. The fact that the figure is not aware of our presence suggests a vulnerability through the fact a personal moment is unable to be contained, as if we are peering through a keyhole.
When creating this pose, I wanted to evoke connotations of an odalisque Rennaissance pose – stripping away the idea of the poweful male, and using the pose to give ideas of the male figure being an object to be looked at, and not to be the observer. The shade of green is once again a paswtel tone, used to compliment the skin tone as the pigment itself can be found within skin.
I ultimately decided against putting this within the exhibition as I feel it doesn’t go as far to explain my concept as much as the other selections. I feel the pose doesn’t give a sense of vulnerability, but through the pose – such as in the arms – in fact evoke power in pushing itself up from the floor instead of looking like a struggle. Also, although I have painted the body in such a sculpted manner, looking almost like a Henry Moore sculpture, I feel the body doesn’t occupy the space as effectively as the others.
Through being inspired by the linear boxes and structures surrounding the human figures within the works of Francis Bacon, I have produced a series of studies using 2 tones of colour to envelop the figure Whereas only one tone remains behind the figure of the tone, the strips of white determines the figure’s space figure a space within the image.
In theory, the figure would look 3 dimensional by wrapping itself around the form, but due to the depth perception that allows our eyes to function the form is not allowed to come forward in real life as it would through a photograph or screen projection. I also believe that it breaks the continuity of the body form, and doesn’t allow the painting to flow from side to side as a composition.
By using my life drawing sessions with Barry, I have managed to convey the emphasis of space more effectively than the two tone studies, simply by suggesting the use of space. In my circumstances, by implementing shadow in a certain manner, or exagguerating the body position, such as in “Pink”, I can create the sense of space within these studies without having to break the body’s flow through a painting
Although a painter of animals – horses in particular – I was particularly motivated by the grandeur scale of George Stubbs painting “Whistlejacket” that is hung in the National Gallery, London. The technique in which Stubbs employs is something not seen often within 18th Century paintings – portraying a figure on a solid, flat background. Only through the technique of shadow under the hoof is the whole solid tone then set as the viewer’s eye as a 3- dimensional plane. The grand scale of the horse itself (lifesize), creates an uncomforting feeling of the horse being amongst the crowd, which goes to reaffirm the idea of planes into the composition. Although my human figures are not lifesize, I have attempted to create feet that are closest within perspective as close to lifesize as possible in order to give a sense of presence as seen in Stubbs’ Whistlejacket, and through the contrast of scale seen in the head vs. feet strengthen the relationship between body and outside.