A Male Artist’s View on the Female Nude

The female nude, ahhhhhh, the luxurious, the sexualized, the hyper-sexualized, the vulgar, the dainty, the morally grotesque, abstract, disproportionate, the deliberate shock value, the linear perception and recognition of the female figure’s beauty, etc., etc… Nature has given women beauty in form, no matter the size, flaws or shape; women’s bodies, the feminine figure, is abundantly beautiful. This is subjective and so is art; hence the vast and dominant interpretation of the feminine in art and through out art’s history. Beside the obvious disposition of an aesthetically pleasing subject matter to look at, I wondered, if it goes deeper for male artists; is there more substance to depicting women, beside the conscious appeal for them? I interviewed my friend Maciek Jasik, an artist (photographer) based out of New York, and knew he would be honest with his response to my question. Maciek recently completed and exhibited a personal photo project titled, Bypassing the Rational, where he photographed the female form, as well as male. The photos are marvelous and unconventional. You can view his work at: http://www.maciekjasik.com 

Copyright Maciek Jasik (Courtesy of the Artist)

Here are his responses…

1) Maciek, in your recent series Bypassing the Rational, you depict the female figure (as well as male) in nontraditional poses. Some forms are in motion, spastic, awkward and mostly wild in nature. What was your intention whilst capturing this, as opposed to the very common depiction of the female form in a flattering and feminine position? 

That’s exactly right. The intention has always been to compliment
the female form. I’m trying to go beyond that.
Our form is only superficial after all. And what’s inside of us, our
energy, who we are, how we respond to the world around us, won’t be
revealed just by our curves or the symmetry in our face. My project is
about revealing our varied energies and identities through color and
motion, from the grotesque to the ethereal. Within all of us, men and
women, that range is possible. I employ every size and shape of woman
to illustrate this idea.
2) Historically, the female nude has been a prevalent subject matter for male artists. In the past, portrayal of the female figure was controversial, sometimes appalling to others, and now it seems most are desensitized to the image. From your personal perspective, why is the female form such an interest in art (perhaps beside the obvious)?  
The female form is ‘the other’ to the male. It’s everything, and
it’s a mystery. Not just a sexual longing or as a partner for love,
but a vital element as a mother, sister, daughter. Every gaze of a
woman can be loaded with meaning from any of those sources.
Personally, I am intrigued by the incredible variety of women’s
bodies, which unfortunately in our society is heavily
under-represented in the media, especially in fashion. Women are
beautiful in many different ways.
3) What is your perception on being a male artist in a male dominated art field? Do you ever question this? How do you feel as male, capturing nude women, and are there any precautions you take (mentally, physically)? 
I don’t know what the statistics are, I’m not sure if art is so
male-dominated. I think the numbers have gotten much better over the
last twenty years and there are many amazing female artists I greatly
admire, from Sally Mann to Martina Ivanow-Hoogland to Remedios Varo. I
think art can still be a conservative institution and there are many
ways that women can be dissuaded from feeling that art can be an
outlet for them, which is gradually being worn away. Hopefully it will
be.When I shoot, I act as professionally as possible. Unfortunately, many
women who pose nude encounter creeps that make them feel uncomfortable
and preyed upon. This makes them wary of working with new male
photographers because they don’t know if they are in fact serious.
That’s bad for everyone. So if I treat them respectfully, that can
help foster more trust and goodwill.
It’s not hard to shoot nudes now, even if a woman is very attractive,
because I’m there to do one thing, produce amazing work. And I’m
focused on that. You get over having naked people in your studio and
it becomes no big deal.
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