The Figure Less Immutable

I visited Vienna Art & Design at the National Gallery of Victoria today, and kept returning to the Schiele drawings – they have a physicality, emotion and psychological tension that lingers.

Kneeling female nude 1912

Kneeling female nude, front view 1912 | Egon Schiele

Yet it’s a physical reaction too, the drawings so intense and well executed they compel responses to the sensory data that may have inspired Schiele himself. Auerbach once said he wanted to capture through his drawings the haptic and tangible in human experience, “what you feel when you touch somebody next to you in the dark”. Seeing Schiele’s work feels like that.

Klimt’s Portrait of Johanna Staude 1917 drew me back to it several times. The attitude, the gesture of it all from barely tamed hair to that nebulous pout (lips never finished in the hope, of course, that she would return to the studio).

Portrait Johanna Staude 1917 | Gustav Klimt

A quote from Godfrey’s Painting Today:

“the continuance of figurative painting and its ongoing validity are a key aspect of contemporary practice….figurative work that seeks to deal with the body as it is understood now: more vulnerable, less immutable, still the seat of identity but an identity that is understood as problematic, not something to be thoughtlessly celebrated.”

Not something to be thoughtlessly celebrated.

Below, some shots of development work and studies….

© pwruiz

© pwruiz


One thought on “The Figure Less Immutable

  1. Indeed, celebrate the body thoughtfully, as mere architecture holding a figurative (pun intended) ark/spark, a transmission from universal intelligence. Figurative painting approaches genius as the artist renders so much more than a plastic coating, and let’s the inner glow, radiant or bilious as a soul may be, emanate as the artist makes the unseen visible.

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