Although art galleries past and present have showcased more than their fair share of nudes, most bodies in the buff adhere to the strict ideals of beauty. When did you ever see Botticelli ask Venus' mother to disrobe?
Yet a new exhibition from painter Aleah Chapin, called "Aunties Project," revels in the beauty of the aging female form. Chapin's realist paintings explore the idiosyncrasies of lived-in flesh— wrinkles, sagging skin, a bluish translucence— celebrating them instead of airbrushing them away.
Chapin, who grew up on an island off the coast of Washington, paints women she grew up with, dubbed "aunties." Placing her painted nudes against the natural landscape, Chapin channels the uncontrollable chaos in both man and nature by documenting the beautiful accidents that emerge through time. The young artist savors every detail, whether it be a blade of grass or a lone freckle.
In his review, Daniel Maidman remarked on the subjects' casual approach to their bare appearance: "Their nudity does not seem to be such a huge big deal to them - their shoulders and arms are relaxed - but their chins are raised and their eyes hooded in their direct gaze at the viewer, suggesting that they are prepared to vigorously defend their position."
Citing Jenny Saville and Lucian Freud among her influences, Chapin shares their fascination with the flesh but removes the element of grotesque meatiness from the unidealized nude. Her work echoes that of fellow Flowers Gallery artist Nadav Kander, whose nudes are also refreshing in their realism.
Chapin's "Aunties Project" is showing at Flowers Gallery in New York until February 23. See a preview of the exhibition below and let us know if you wish more artists dared to show this degree of honesty in their depictions.