St Giles Street Gallery, Norwich
> St Giles Street Gallery, Norwich
The nude occupies an elevated status within the genre of portraiture, often transcending obvious notions of sexuality. One such example is Clare, by Paul Darley, which focuses on the abstract planes of the body applying the principles of landscape composition.
Naked, on the other hand, implies a state of stripped exposure fuelled by the demand for voyeuristic material. And if it's the later you are after there's certainly plenty to titillate; nudes in tin baths, adorned with angelic wings, assertively astride chairs and leaning seductively against an Aston Martin.
Adulterating David Koppel's image advantageously in The Lost Embrace, John Kiki introduces a sinister cartoon figure to shock the nubile beauty into covering her modesty. And with innovative photographic perspective, Sam Robbins changes the emphasis from viewing to participation in The Visitor.
While Julie Cook's peep-show-style mountings further confirm female sexuality as a commodity, several pieces do, however, challenge this construction. The overt manner in which Nude on a Chrome Chair, by David Baldwin, unabashedly exposes herself thwarts erotic interpretation. The static nonchalance of the work is disturbed by a vortex of hand movement, also distracting
attention from the raw gash of femininity. With contrasting subtlety, Barbara Herrmann's Striped Cloth No15 incorporates a reposed nude who is beautifully incidental to the decorative effect of the piece and the carefully considered compositions of Emma Shipton Smith focus instead on the space around the body.
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The show is curated to lead into a more shocking backroom, unveiling enroute a staged Sapphic scene, a bromide print entitled Lisa in Chains, which flirts irreverently with several taboos, and culminating in a painting of a couple copulating. But somehow Vanessa Clegg's realism is more shocking for it illuminates the terrifying process of ageing.
t Until September 7