Caroline Nijman‘s 2006 collection of paintings, “NACKT”, can be viewed as a series of exercises in nudes: a painter’s exercise, a basic academic activity that appears before the spectator as a known (artistic) form with which the latter can easily interact. As a form of art, the nude’s principal point of reference lies in Greek art which developed the figure of the torso as an ideal form of “beauty” which has been continually revised throughout the history of art.
A number of classical reminiscences oscillating between Apollo and Venus are evident in Nijman’s nude torsos despite the fact that they only represent a female body. In keeping with the character of the exercise, each one of the figures emphasizes a different aspect: in one it is the pose itself which stands out, the brushstroke accentuating the inscrutable pose; in another the form which the more carnal body suggests penetrates the movements and gesturesdepicting a certain challenging femininity (the new place of what is feminine). Nudes which have no place, their face is missing (individuality) or their legs (dismembered bodies), a condition that depersonalizes the figure even more; it’s no more about the individual, but rather an artistic form about which one speculates in a game of figure and form, of light and shade.
In another series of pictures there is a work of space: there’s a place that contains an emotive situation. The nudes depict a dramatism, a mixture between ecstasy and pain that is presented not only through the attitude but also the brushstroke, the way the paint drips, the contrast of light and the dramatism of the shading which embody an intense emotionalism that remains trapped in the framing .
There is a picture in the series of faces that once again reduces the totality as a way of emphasizing the subject on which the painter is working. In this series the identity of the model is recovered although, paradoxically, in an almost embarrassed attitude, the faces aren’t nude: they wear masks which frame the expression. This is almost the only expressive element of a large scale face built on big brushstrokes, traces of colour that attest to an identity hidden by both the mask and the stain.
In the end, the distance there is between a human body and Caroline Nijman‘s paintings is pierced by photography as part of a chain of representations from the flesh to nude painting. The photography is situated in the middle, employed as a register of the form, like a sketch from which a new painting for a new exercise, a new interpretation is chosen. This move from skin to photography ( made at times by another artist/author) and then from photography to pictorial representation (the gesture, the stain, the way the paint has been allowed to drip, the new framing)is the path that Caroline Nijman has followed in her search for expression.
Visit the Exhibition at Km5 in Ibiza from the 30 April – 4 May 2013
By Leonor Castaneda, Marzo 2007