The Huffington Post describes the artist as portraying nudes from a female perspective where women are simply operating without clothes in the outdoors. This caught my eye and gained my attention, as I firmly believe that this non sexual depictions of the clothes free body is what will normalize nudity in society. So I reached out to the artist who graciously agreed to provide some of her work for a sample gallery and answer a few questions . What follows is a short interview and a sample of what HuffPost called the hyper-realistic work of Susannah Martin. I hope our readers will enjoy it then visit her site to see more or to acquire one of her pieces.
CFL: Why did you decide to start painting nudes?
SM: After art school, I spent many years as a painter of sets for film and photography and of murals. I missed painting people and figures very much. When my daughter was born, I took a little step back from the commercial work and realized that I was not happy painting what everyone else wanted me to paint and that I would probably never be happy until I painted what I wanted to paint; people. I began to paint portraits again. One day, in early spring, my young daughter took off her clothes and jumped into a stream during a sunday hike in the woods. That reminded me so much of my childhood and I recognized that what she just did, and what I had done, was something so essentially human. I happened to have my camera with me and took photographs. I looked at these beautiful photographs and made a pastel painting for my husband for his birthday. I enjoyed painting that painting more than anything I had painted in the last 18 years and I was hooked.
CFL: Was it always your intent to make your paintings photorealistic?
SM: I am a realist, as a person and as a painter. I don´t know that I would call myself a photorealist, I think I take too many liberties with my technique to qualify. But I do photograph my models outdoors and then use the photos to paint from, so my photography plays an important role in production. I take billions of photographs of my models outside and they inspire all sorts of things in me!
My most important teacher at NYU was a photorealist ( John Kacere) and I was very attracted to the photorealists during my years at the University so the movement certainly had a strong effect on me. I think that the integration of the photographic element into painting is an element that is very specific to contemporary art. Computer graphics have also influenced painting strongly in the last 15 years. Painting is always, and should be , a product of the times in which it was produced. I am very interested in contemporizing the nude as an art form.
CFL: What do you want people to take away from your work?
SM: I don´t have any pre-conceived notions of what people will take away from the work. I´m putting it out and I have little influence over how it will be received. But I trust that, although we may all be coming from different cultures and have had different experiences in life which effect our reaction to art, we are all human . The experience of having a body, and being without clothes in contact with nature, feels much the same to most of us, I am sure. It is our common ground.
CFL: Do you spend any time clothes free yourself?
SM: Not enough! I am a big city person, and getting naked is generally not appreciated in big cities. I get out in the open in the country as much as possible. I have however, modeled nude for many artists and have painted myself in the nude.
In her own words in the painting Gorge
A few years ago I turned my attention toward contemporizing a very classical subject in art: the bather. While an 18th or even 19th century painting of a bather could still be accepted as representing a realistic situation, the absurdity of the 21st century bather fascinated me. For me this shift in attitude toward the figure in landscape, points to a much larger and more disturbing anthropological crisis: namely our extreme estrangement from nature. With these nudes I am attempting both to challenge the traditional role of the nude in art, that is to provide an aesthetically pleasing object of visual/sexual consumption, and to poke a finger in the open wound of our current human displacement. So doing, I hope to trigger contemplation on the causes and effects of the treasonous abuse and subsequent loss of our eco-system home. “ Gorge “ is a particularly confrontational representation of man in nature. The painting focuses on the existential experience of a young woman at the moment of enlightened awareness of her unity with the life force. This is an experience which I provoke with my models outdoors and which I attempt to record or describe in my work.
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