by Nancy Jacques
Juried by E. Warren Perry
Juror’s Dialogue with Erica Fortwengler
The objective given to the artists and the juror, E. Warren Perry of the National Portrait Gallery, for Curves was: “This show is based on the human figure... Works must be derived from the human figure or based on an understanding of the human figure, abstracted or representational. Forms can include classical realism, works capturing the human form, portraiture, life drawing and/or any other creation where human form is the prime feature or inspiration.”
Perry came into the gallery obviously expecting to see the human figure, but he had no idea he would encounter such an abundance of media, formats, and styles. He was looking for images of the figure that portrayed the curvature of the body, and he was looking for resonance – an echo that doesn’t stop.
“What I discovered the moment I began reviewing the work was the multiple lenses committed to bringing the human form into representation. This was what I hoped and expected I would experience. The word surfeit comes into play. There was a wealth and a quality canon inside these submissions. There were two criteria I employed in considering the works: One, was the human form represented in terms of that one titled word- curves, and two, how was the work provocative, new, or simply excellent. I hope you enjoy reviewing these works as much as I enjoyed experiencing them.
Some of these works are charged with the mystical beauty of the human form while others are more suggestive, exuding sexuality in both latent and more obvious ways, and others yet represent the verdant splendors of spring and the allegories of our place in nature. The winner (US 180,384 2007 by Nancy Jacques) was chosen because it not only defined perfectly the challenges of the competition, but it also was the most courageous and risky and resonant and beautiful work in the group. It contains curves and absences, the flesh of our beauty and the absence of flesh in our diminishing, the curves of our sexual wonder, and the horror of our gossamer and limited span in this world that tolerates the simultaneity of our prowess and our weakness.”
The second place winner, Il Nano Morgante by Nancy Garcia, exudes abundance. His curves, flesh, and fertility are all bursting out of frame of his body, unable to be contained. He illustrates the joy and abundance of life to a degree of gluttony.
Perry found the hidden parodies in Teresa Oaxaca’s painting The Human quite intriguing. “This piece is a parody on so many levels. We have a nude male in a somewhat feminine pose on a stripper pole. His hips are jutting out slightly; his face obstructed… somewhat disguised by his arm and longish hair. The identity and role of this individual is blurred. I think the artist had a lot of fun painting this piece.”
Perry is a writer, researcher, and independent curator at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Perry curated One Life: Echoes of Elvis, which opened at the National Portrait Gallery January 8, 2010. He also co-curated a traveling exhibit, Elvis at 21, which opened at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on January 8, and will travel to fifteen additional venues, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. He co-authored Elvis 1956, released in November 2009. Perry received his MFA from Catholic University of America and his BA and MA from The University of Memphis.
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