Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
Continued from Vol. 339
“When someone goes so far as to re-invent them self with a new name it’s unlikely they’ll want to reveal too much about their past,” Martin said.
To Nadine, Alberta seemed to be someone for whom the past was not particularly important. Certainly history was important to her. The history of how women had been depicted in art through the ages was of the utmost importance it seemed.
The video they were watching cut from the chaos of the art opening to still shots of Alberta’s paintings, one by one, on the walls while no one was in the museum. This is what Nadine had wanted Martin to see.
Where the original pin-up girls had been airbrushed to an unnatural smoothness, Alberta’s paintings were very loose. Wildly gestural. The women depicted were decidedly less coy about their sexuality than the demure and passive expressions of their 1940s counterparts. Alberta represented skin in broad strokes that were then given a partial outline to simultaneously indicate shape and action. Neither of which were apparently more important than the other, whereas, the women in the original paintings were decorative objects whose entire purpose was to induce sexual reactions using antiquated renditions of non-threatening femininity. Alberta’s subjects were undeniably in control. Absolutely and unabashedly threatening. Her paintings were about transparency as opposed to titillation. Alberta the painter was complicit with the powerful sexuality in her paintings. Brushstrokes and other methods of paint application from dribbling, slopping and drenching were visible. She didn’t smooth everything out, nor did she shy away from leaving areas of raw canvas. How she worked enforced a calculated insistence on many levels. Her paintings were grand gestures reclaiming and inventing the ever-expanding nature of what it means to be a woman depicting women in art.
The video ended. The wall it had illuminated went dark. Martin stood up, came around the desk and flipped on the lights in the main room. He leaned against the wall beside Nadine, who almost immediately straightened up and moved away from him.
“Museum Of Open Windows” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):