Finally, Artist Paints Female Nudes As They Really Are (NSFW)

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Victoria Selbach is a painter and nudes are her subject of choice. But don’t expect her artistic outpout to resemble Will Cotton’s airy pinup girls, John Currin’s luminous buxom forms or Lucian Freud’s fleshy animals. No, Selbach spares all elements of added fantasy or repulsion in her artworks, rendering her subjects, female and unclothed, as they truly are.

Imagine that.

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“I feel a strong connection to women, a loyalty, a sisterhood, an empathy,” Selbach writes in her artist statement. “I am drawn to their radiance. Each muse brings her complex identity and beauty into the moment. I do not attempt to imply or add qualities to the women I paint. My work is to study the interplay between the light and the muse.”

Most of Selbach’s models appear in everyday, domestic settings — sitting by the window or glancing in the mirror. For the most part they feel unposed, adjusting their hair or scratching their neck. The scenes, despite their banal explanations, take on a visual power that’s simply breathtaking. When describing her inspirations to The Huffington Post, Selbach explained:

“The light rolling in and over incredible form. The amazing women in my life. Those moments when you stumble on a radiance that takes your breath away. An instance when light meets the human form and just completely floors you with the line and beauty. The way the human form fills space and creates contrasts of light and darkness. The desire to capture presence while honoring all the mystery held in the shadows.”

Though it sounds simple, capturing women as they actually appear in the world, removed from the projections so often cast upon them, is rarely done and very rarely done well.

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Despite Selbach’s realist approach, she traces her artistic style back to the religious artworks she encountered as a child. “The first artworks that had an impact on me where the religious paintings and illustrations that I stumbled on growing up Catholic,” she said. “The heavy laden creepiness intrigued my imagination and curiosity. Their stark contrast to my sunny cheery childhood hinted at something darker, more adult, something to be feared and yet drawn to. It is the physical weight of those pieces not the fantasy aspects that I can see in my current work. They had an ability to pull the viewer in, to create a desire to know the emotion, to experience empathy.”

Citing artists from Diego Rivera to Jenny Saville as influences, a strong conviction that women are beautiful as they are remains at the core of Selbach’s artistic mission.

The artist describes her artistic abilities as: “The power to show real women, honest, present, complex and complete. Individuals, radiant in their own right. Not stripped of their personhood, or manipulated for a fantasy or metaphor. I like to think the power of lifting the veil from individuals helps to challenge societies darker fetishes and beliefs, perhaps shatter notions of bigotry and stereotypes… One of my greatest joys is working with women who do not usually dwell in this side of their beauty and yet in the work recognize themselves completely, as they are and magnificent.”

See Selbach’s series below, a stunning representation of women as they truly are. For more artwork against body oppression, check out the exhibition “After Our Bodies Meet.

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