And now for something completely different …
In a complete change from my usual business or technical blogs, this is a blog about art.
I have the absolute pleasure to be in business with a great artist, Katie Tunn. Katie is one of those natural artists that seems to me as a non-artist to have talent to spare – she creates masterful pieces, whether it is the polo series she did last year (one of her pictures was given to the world’s leading player at an award last year by Guard’s Polo Club), the painting of an MP (Adam Afriyie MP), or her latest St Sebastian series which I show below.
What I wasn’t aware before working with Katie is how artists document their inspiration in an “Artist’s Statement” – for those interested I have included the statement as a PDF below, and also extracted the text for easier reading. Does knowing the Artists Statement change your opinion of the pictures? – interestingly it did for me.
Now as a businessman I should point out that if you’d like one of these pictures – contact me. If you’d like to commission Katie to paint a member of your family, your business, a horse or any other animal, or anything else (she creates the most amazing life-like paintings) then – contact me.
Enjoy the art:
A decorative version of Katie’s Artist statement is available. The text is as follows:
KATIE TUNN: THE BEAUTIFUL BOY
A SERIES OF SIX PAINTINGS EXPLORING THE AESTHETICS OF THE MALE NUDE
‘This is a book about male beauty. There are some who think the expression ‘male beauty’ oxymoronic, even perverse.’ – Germaine Greer, The Beautiful Boy, 2003
This series of paintings is created as a joyful celebration of youthful male beauty and colour. A combination of traditional realistic painting and stark, vivid hues and high-gloss finishes. They are a pared-back, minimalist approach to an iconographic-style.
Taking inspiration from photographs created by French duo Pierre et Gilles, they also give a slight nod towards other current artists including Jeff Koons and David LaChappelle.
Initially inspired by the reclining sculpture of Saint Sebastian by Antonio Giorgetti at San Sebastiano fuori le mura of Rome, these pieces draw from the historical portrayal of the saint as one of the most physically attractive characters in Christianity.
The swift elevation of the female nude as the artist ideal and the reduction in interest in religious scenes during the nineteenth century meant that portrayals of the saint began to dwindle. In the late twentieth century, his ‘beautiful boy’ representation has meant that Saint Sebastian has been resurrected as a gay icon with many artists and photographers using his image or imagery as inspiration for glamorous pictures. Although not traditionally associated, the stylised kitsch of Catholic art fits perfectly into the high camp much associated with gay media. Germaine Greer writes about St Sebastian in the Beautiful Boy, a book which examines our relationship with the image of the young man. With Saint Sebastian as a starting point, this series of paintings takes inspiration from this book to explore the image of the beautiful boy as a whole.
When commenting on the aesthetics of the young male, an interesting perspective is added by the fact that the artist is female.
Does this add a feminist perspective to the pieces, considering the way male artists have treated the female subject, or is it a simple case of enjoying beauty in any form? A number of people have remarked on this subject matter, but why should portraying a man in this way be seen as more aggressively sexual? Why should a male nude hold different meaning to a female nude?
Alongside the artistic (Koons, Pierre et Gilles, LaChappelle) and religious influences, there are a number of cultural sources that these paintings draw from. Probably the most interesting of these is twentieth century political propaganda; this is mainly due to the heavy stylisation of shape and the creation of the idol figure. The comparisons to posters created by the Nazi party in WWII that presented healthy, smiling youths suggests that our cumulative interest in what is beautiful and true is not always entirely innocent. Is there something sinister in the glowing figures or is it simply in the mindset of the viewer or creator? Perhaps the sinister element is echoing society’s obsession with beauty and perfection.
The paintings portray a realistic representation of the model on a background of bold, flat colour to create a pared-down image of the idol figure. Stripped of the embellishment and ornamentation, we are left with nothing but the man depicted in the centre. Without the symbolism of, say, a Catholic shrine painting, with its gold leaf and floral borders, the viewer is left to contemplate the figure alone in his frame. Are they showing off? Are they beautiful? Are they an idol or are they vulnerable?
Katie Tunn is a young artist with a BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins. She describes her paintings as conceptual figurative and works to merge traditional skills with new media styles and techniques. Having begun her career painting polo and military subjects, she now works from a studio in the Surrey area.