Gagosian Gallery (Davies st)
UNTIL 16 DECEMBER
“Bewbs by Tom Wesselmann, aged 10”
Gagosian Gallery (the Davies St one) presents a selection of pretty sexy Tom Wesselmann Bedroom Drawings from 1968 to 1983 in association with the Almine Rech Gallery (who have their own concurrent Wesselmann exhibition) and the Estate of Tom Wesselmann.
Okay, so there are a lot of nipples, as one would expect. But Wesselmann plays with shape and scale like no other, getting closer and closer to his subject until he fully abstracts the traditional female form. As such, Wesselmann manages to single handedly subvert art history itself via the trope of the erotic female nude. In Bedroom Painting #4, he carefully constructs his composition, erotically pairing a well placed orange with a fragmented and magnified breast, played out within an intimate domestic scene where everyday objects interlock; blinds, a flower, a hint of a pillow and a leopard print bedspread. The pairing of fragmented female body parts with consumable everyday objects is not lost on viewers, and he has been plenty accused of misogyny. But I think what Wesselmann does is simply to re-assess the eroticized gaze, lightheartedly suggesting the inherent ridiculousness of comparing a breast with an orange.
They are all-American in their Pop art colours and style, appearing like billboards with beautiful women lounging around. The concept of advertising as an influencing factor is not lost on Wesselmann, who is fascinated by American consumer culture. Though he thought it radical at the time to do away with the traditional rectangular canvases, such in Bedroom Painting #63 where he abstracts the canvas shape to suggest the female form, the advertisers had been doing it for years. His women immediately call to mind the beautiful women we see in billboards daily, their long tanned legs and swishy hair urging you to buy the latest lipstick. By making the female figure central to his composition, yet almost invisible, Wesselmann inherently questions the nature of the use of the female body in imagery across the ages.
The Titian of Pop art, no doubt.