Ask Morgana 101: Aaron Nagel

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The thing about this series is that I’m not taking a blind bit of notice about whether something is ‘great art’, or even ‘good art’. Sometimes I will comment about draughtsmanship. Neither am I concerned whether the erotic content is deliberate. I am concerned about whether the quality – the effect, if you like – is erotic. By and large it is, although I did deliberately pick an artist recently who tried to be erotic and failed.

When I look at art over the past few decades, I become more and more aware that we have to regard ourselves as being in a ‘post-modern’ era. I don’t feel that ‘modernism’, as a very broad artistic term, is over and done with – it had and still has far much more to say. Neither do I feel that post-modernism, for all its references, is nothing more than a return to old, established aesthetics. Many painters working today have rediscovered realism, and have pressed it to their purposes. More often than not, their purposes are to present much more than simple representation. In the work of Aaron Nagel, realism seems to be a vehicle for symbolism. His female subjects are faithfully painted, and yes they are sexy; but what is the significance of their being wrist-deep, elbow-deep, upper-arm-deep in what might be black paint or liquid latex? What is the significance of arrows as a ‘prop’? What is the significance of the religious iconography, of the woman casually swinging a cross on a chain, of the representation of a naked woman as St Sebastian (not shown), or of two women posing in imitation of the ‘Deposition’?

We await answers, meanwhile idly admiring the texture in the leather sofa and the bed quilt, the attention to detail on the sole of a model’s foot, and the fact that Nagel’s women have beautiful breasts…

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Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

 

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