The Bathers

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‘The Bathers’ (oil on canvas, 120 x 145 cm) is a response to the canonical depiction of the bathing woman in art history. The painting acts as an intervention within a genre which expects the female form to be naked, passive and sexualised (e.g. Paul Cezanne Les Baigneurs 1906). In direct contrast ‘The Bathers’ draws upon a vernacular representation of bathing. The female figures are wearing swimming costumes; their forms are athletic and active. Most significantly, they are wearing goggles. This device dehumanises the figure whilst simultaneously reinforcing the act of looking. Both women are staring at the viewer; their gaze is active and challenging. This is a break with the canonical depiction of a passive female gaze which allows the viewer access to the sexualised body. ‘The Bathers’ was selected by the arts council of northern Ireland for inclusion in the exhibition Contemporary Art in Northern Ireland, Parliament Buildings 16.11.2011 –04.01.2012. Doctor Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts Northern Ireland said “Anyone visiting the exhibition over the festive period will see the extraordinary quality and range of work from Northern Ireland’s visual artists, which goes far beyond what might be expected of a small region and something to be immensely proud of. This exhibition celebrates the vibrancy of our artists in recent times and I would encourage everyone to visit it while they can.” The exhibition received in excess of 4500 visitors in the first month and so was extended for one additional month.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2012
EventContemporary Art in Northern Ireland - Parliament Buildings
Duration: 16 Nov 20114 Jan 2012


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