It has always been important to SINGULART to give our artists a platform to address the topics that matter most to them. Therefore, alongside our charitable auction Celebrating Body Positivity, we spoke to three of our fifteen featured artists to discover more about how the concept of body positivity and the relationship between beauty and art inspires their work.
Taking part in this conversation is Joanna Pilarczyk Radecka, a contemporary Polish artist painting known for her figurative portraits, American artist Jonathan Mcafee, whose portraits center around the theme of memory, and artist Rocio Navarro who is inspired by the women, the landscape, and the indegiouns peoples of her native Mexico.
Find their answers below!
Why, as an artist or personally, are you interested in the topic of body positivity?
Rocio: I approach this subject with a feminist perspective and it interests me because I think it is a way of facing and understanding the monumental pressure that is put on women and our bodies. I believe this is a key aspect of gender norms that dictate we should be liked and likeable by the way we behave and by the way we look.
Joanna: My paintings from ‘Intimate Times’ series focus on self- portrait and portrait of my partner only. As a figurative artist who usually finds the inspiration among other people, time of lockdown and isolation was challenging. I realized that I have to put myself in a role of a model to my paintings. I never before even considered to work on self-portrait as I always felt that it is a difficult subject and it requires a lot of courage.
Working on ‘Intimate Times’ series and now on ‘`Hidden in Flowers’ painting have been a great opportunity for me to challenge myself as an artist and woman and expose my body as a subject in my artwork. I paint myself but also, I capture every woman. By using a colorful, vibrant palette and beautiful light reflecting on the skin and surrounding plants and flowers, I would like to share with the viewer a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, a moment of meditation when my body and mind are filled with acceptation and love.
Where, or how, do you think that art, beauty, and aesthetics intersect?
Jonathan: I believe that good art always ends with a beautiful result. I am not interested in something that is trying too hard to be provocative or is shocking only to be shocking.
Joanna: Everywhere, in every aspect of our life.
Art has so often been used to objectify bodies in the past, do you think that art and artists now have a responsibility to rectify this practice?
Joanna: As an artist who is in love in human body, who gets so much inspiration from other people, not only their physical image but their story behind the face. I don’t agree that art has been used to objectify the body. There were so many artist in the past, some of them controversial at that time, like Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec, Egon Schiele, Matisse or Paul Gauguin who focused their work on female body showing not only beauty, also beauty of imperfection or transformation. Most importantly they captured wonderful characters with their all happiness and struggles of everyday life.
These artists are still an inspiration to me but I am extremely happy to discover more figurative young artist who highlight ‘positivity of body’ in their work. They focus on beauty within ourselves, acceptance of who we are in sexuality, differences in our cultures, all problems and struggles which make every person so interesting.
Jonathan: Certain artists may have done this and will continue to do this if that is what they are interested in and what their audience finds enjoyable. If anything, advertising is the biggest culprit of this but art has often shown people in all shapes and sizes portrayed beautifully and erotically.
Rocio: I think art reflects who we are as a society and what values we deem important. Our so called western societies are more free and egalitarian than they ever were, but it seems to me that women’s bodies are also more sexualized and objectified than ever (justified often in the name of freedom) and I think art is reflecting that.
How have you sought to empower yourself or your audience with the artwork you have created for our Body Positivity Sale?
Jonathan: I decided to create this particular painting because I want people to see the beauty in bodies that don’t fit the typical narrative of what attractiveness currently is in our mainstream.
Rocio: This portrait surrounded by nature is a serene affirmation of a woman.
Joanna: Especially for this occasion I decided to uncover myself completely and paint a full nude – body captured in beautiful, vibrant contrasting colors and light, surrounded by plants and flowers. I enjoy this moment, I accept my body and I connect myself with nature.
Thank you to all our artists for taking the time to answer our questions.