Body Art for the Modern World

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Paul Van Hevel, Guest ContributorLast Modified: 21:12 p.m. EDT, 8 September 2014

Medusa, Body Painting, Photo by One Step 2 FarSAN DIEGO, California -- Photography and art are prominently featured in The Report. The website is anchored by photography, but artists by virtue of their unique and at times revolutionary view of the world are also presented.

Today, we feature a brief post about body art in its historical and modern equivalent, as well as how you can enjoy this art form on a more personal level.

Reasons Why People Love Body Painting

The art of painting the body is not as new as some people may think. For centuries, people in every culture have found ways to add to their natural features in either a temporary or a permanent form.  Body painting differs from the more permanent art of tattoos in the fact that they are only temporary.

According to Bella Volen, "body painting with clay and other natural pigments existed in most, if not all, tribalist cultures.  Often worn during ceremonies, it still survives in this ancient form among the indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Africa, India, Japan and more.”

The art still practiced in much of the world today often represents a rite of passage in either their social or spiritual life and is an integral part of the wearer’s advancement through the years. There are several different reasons why someone may choose to have their body painted.

Traditional Significance

When you’re considering our history, odds are that you’ll find body painting was a significant part of our past. Most often, it was one of the customs of our ancestors and was done to represent some major rite of passage in life. In many cultures it was a common practice for weddings, reaching adulthood, to celebrate new life or to mourn a death.

Religious Significance

It also has a religious or spiritual representation in many cultures. The Hindi, for example use body painting in many of their festivals and celebrations to honor their gods and goddesses with the beautiful henna designs.

It’s Art

No matter what your culture, people will always be able to enjoy true art in the world around them. Body painting is a way to transform the human body into a living, breathing, walking work of art that is not limited to distant lands.

For those who truly appreciate this type of living art, the idea of providing your body as a canvas for true artists at their best can be an exhilarating experience. Whether you enjoy this type of art form for its beauty or for the skill of the artist, there is one thing for sure. Having your body painted will bring you positive attention by offering you and those around you a unique experience that everyone can appreciate.

According to Sean Avram, who is featured on the show Skin Wars, “everyone deserves a chance to feel beautiful and to be treated special and told how good they look…. It is a very inclusive art form that generates a positive atmosphere as people enjoy the creation of the art in awe.”

As Oscar Wilde famously said, “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”

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Carrie Mae Weems | Photographer

Carrie Mae Weems | Photographer

"This invisibility—this erasure out of the complex history of our life and time—is the greatest source of my longing. As you know, I’m a woman who yearns, who longs for. This is the key to me and to the work, and something which is rarely discussed in reviews or essays, which I also find remarkably disappointing. That there are so few images of African-American women circulating in popular culture or in fine art is disturbing; the pathology behind it is dangerous. I mean, we got a sistah in the White House, and yet mediated culture excludes us, denies us, erases us. But in the face of refusal, I insist on making work that includes us as part of the greater whole. Black experience is not really the main point; rather, complex, dimensional, human experience and social inclusion—even in the shit, muck, and mire—is the real point." -- Carrie Mae Weems

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Jason deCaires Taylor | MUSA

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:46 PM EDT, 18 July 2012

Jason deCaires Taylor Installation, Tribute to Slaves Who Drowned in Middle PassagCANCUN, Mexico - Today, one of our readers emailed photos of an underwater installation by Jason deCaires Taylor. The sender stated that the installation was a tribute to the slaves who were thrown overboard to drown during the Middle Passage of the slave trade route.

The photos were intriguing and upon further research we discovered that the sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor was the founding member of an underwater museum called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte).

According to Taylor's website, "the museum was formed in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. The project founded by Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Diaz of The Cancun Nautical Association and Jason deCaires Taylor.

The installation consists of over 450 permanent life-size sculptures, made from specialized materials used to promote coral life, with the total installations occupying an area of over 420sq metres of barren seabed and weighing over 200 tons.  The museum is one of the largest and most ambitious underwater artificial art attractions in the world.

Jason deCaires Taylor is an internationally acclaimed Eco-sculptor who creates underwater living sculptures, offering viewers mysterious, ephemeral encounters and fleeting glimmers of another world where art develops from the effects of nature on the efforts of man.

His site-specific, permanent installations are designed to act as artificial reefs, attracting corals, increasing marine biomass and aggregating fish species, while crucially diverting tourists away from fragile natural reefs and thus providing space for natural rejuvenation. Subject to the abstract metamorphosis of the underwater environment, his works symbolize a striking symbiosis between man and nature, balancing messages of hope and loss." (Source: Jason deCaires Taylor Website)

The photos below were taken by tourists visiting the installations. To view his complete portfolio of hi-res professional photos of his sculptures please visit his website and enjoy.

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Sade, Timeless

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:30 PM EDT, 27 April 2012 First Published: 15:03 PM EDT, 15 January 2010

Sade, Photo by OutkastedLONDON, England - Helen Folasade Adu “Sade”, 53, who was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, has come out with a follow-up single to "Soldier of Love," aptly titled "Love is Found." It is amazing to watch and listen to a woman who has been performing since 1984, and whose musical style has remained consistently outstanding and timeless.

I think in part her longevity is due to the private nature of her life, as it seems she has wisely chosen to focus her public persona entirely on her music. But for a brief moment when she experienced a terribly painful breakup, this seems little more than a blip compared to the drama that regularly plays out in the tabloids and news media about today's "musicians."

Sade is a songstress, an artist who harkens back to vocalist like Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, to name a few. Women who inhabited their talent with grace and class. We have chosen to update this post because of the recent news comparing Sade to Adele, another British superstar, and rumors of another album release.

Sade's soulful renderings come from a place borne of the experiences of a woman who has known and lost love, who is daughter and mother, who has navigated the complexities of a heritage that is both African and European, and who has passed through the agonies of heartbreak and pain played out in the public domain.

Her commitment to her music is what continues to draw fans to listen to and buy her music which has remained relevant even with a nine-year hiatus. She is the epitome of a true artist who is beholden first and foremost to their craft.

She possesses the patience to await the muse of inspiration that has once again enabled her to deliver a song that is "classic," evocative, and boldly revealing. She remains an inspiration to those of us who seek to live boldly without artifice, to display without sentiment our triumphs and foibles, and to experience the spectrum of emotional interactions that makes us uniquely human.

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Music video by Sade performing Love Is Found. (c) 2011 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

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Music video by Sade performing Soldier Of Love (c) 2010 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

Watch the making of "Soldier Of Love" below.

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René Magritte | Surrealist Painter

René Magritte | Surrealist Painter

The 20th Century Surrealist Painter René Magritte, is one of my favorite artists. I particularly like the Surrealist movement because each person brings their own psychology to bear when interpreting the paintings. Enjoy!

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The Freudian Origins of Surrealism

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:53 p.m. EDT, 15 August 2011

Sigmund Freud, Photo in LIFE Magazine

The surrealist movement is in part based on the groundbreaking work of psychologist Dr. Sigmund Freud's theories on free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious.

By tapping into the unconscious and portraying it unfettered through painting and photography, the viewer is afforded the opportunity to live vicariously in the waking dreams.

In the Nahmias Report we have featured the works of the painters Rene Margritte, Frida Kahlo, Francis Picabia, Salvador Dali, and Max Ernst, and encourage you to learn more about these artists and view their works by following the links above.

Some may look at the work of surrealists and conclude that these people must have been mentally unstable. Quite the contrary, most of these artists refused to subvert their inner realities to the conventions of the epoch in which they were born.

They chose instead to push further into the frontiers of the unconscious by translating the ethereal mysteries of their minds on to canvassed landscapes which continue to fascinate, repulse, and intrigue viewers.

Salvador Dalí said it best, "there is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad."

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Fernando Botero | Amedeo Modigliani

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:31 AM EDT, Sunday, 7 August 2011

Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres,_La_Grande_Odalisque,_1814An Odalisque (Turkish: Odalık) was a female slave in an Ottoman seraglio. She was an assistant or apprentice to the concubines and wives, and she might rise in status to become one of them. Most odalisque were part of the Imperial Harem, that is, the household, of the sultan.

Many artists, especially classical artist such as Jean August Dominique Ingres, who in 1814 painted the Grand Odalisque, often portrayed female nudes in this style. Hence the original use of the word as a noun has morphed within the field of paintings into an adjective which used to describe a particular style of portraying a female nude.

Two of into my favorite artists, Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920 and Fernando Botero Angulo (born April 19,1932 - present), depict stylized Odalisque at opposite ends of the spectrum. Both artists portray women in exaggerated proportions, Modigliani chose to elongate his figures, while Botero chose to accentuate corpulence. I find in each a more  natural, albeit caricature, portrayal of women because these artists do not seek perfection through idealization.

Whereas the nudes of the great artists like Michaelangelo strive to not only portray physical perfection of the body types of their age, it seemed as if the artists sought to imbue the canvas with the very essence of the model's soul.  By contrast, Modigliani and Botero seek to explore other aspects of painting and the female nude.

Modigliani was born into an Italian-Jewish family from Livorno, Italy.  He moved to Paris in 1906 where he met a female poet,  Anna Akhmatov who became the inspiration for many of his paintings."

"One of the key-elements of Modigliani's portraitism were the slated heads, derived from Byzantine cariatides because of the horizontal placement of the eyes and mouth coupled with the curvature of the nose. The portraits subtlety is due to Modigliani's unique talent, but its essence, the facial constructions one of the most important artistic inventions of modern art." Source:  Paintings.Name

Such directness in figurative portraiture forms the basis for abstract art, and in fact, Picasso would later use this mask-like depictions of the human face in many of his paintings.

Born in 1932 in Medellin, Colombia, as Fernando Botero Angulo, he has worked in landscapes and still-lifes, but his fame rests on paintings and sculpture of human figures with almost comically exaggerated, rounded features. Colombians have loved him for decades, at least since he won first prize at the Salon de Artistas Colmbiano in 1959, and find his work emblematic of their nation’s identity.

The Latin American artist is often quoted as saying that he paints "the world as he sees it." His work though in the style of caricature is immediately recognizable, and captivating or repulsive depending upon the viewer's perception of corpulence. For those who like 'Zaftig' women, Botero's preference for bigger, richer, models versus thin and emaciated body types that are currently in vogue, makes his work fascinating and engaging.

For students of art history, even a cursory review of his work reveals a Baroque influence. One could reasonably argue that Botero uses the distortion of proportion as commentary on social mores and the stature of the subject.

Perhaps the tendency of Baroque art toward abundance and heightened proportion helped form his signature style. But for his part, Botero claims not to have known or understood the sources of his art when he began painting, calling it entirely intuitive.

Botero’s Baroque inspiration was recognized in the title of a major exhibition of his work, “The Baroque World of Fernando Botero,” which toured museums in North America from 2007 through 2008. The accompanying catalog, published by Yale University Press (2007), is the most extensive study of his life and work to date. Featuring 100 works from the artist’s private collection, the volume provides an informed review of his considerable body of work. Source:  Antique Trader

 

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