Chris Komater‘s new photo series, Stavros at His Bath, draws inspiration from 19th century paintings of women at their toilet, bathing scantily-clad by the river, or lunching in the grass naked with their clothed male companions.
During the 19th century, the representation of the nude female body underwent a revolution whose main insurgents were Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. They rejected the idealized nudes of academic painting, as well as the hypocritical confinement of the erotic to mythological subjects. Manet painted his Olympia in 1863, based on Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus. Rather than depicting the goddess of love, Manet’s subject is a prostitute, a real woman, shocking because of her confrontational gaze and sexual independence.
The subject of Komater’s series, Stavros, is a large bearish man emerging from his tub, floating in the sea, sprawled on his bed, but rendered in such low resolution as to obliterate details of personality or identity. The images are 30″ x 38″ printed in a resolution of 12 x 16 pixels, each pixel about 2 inches square. Komater shares these intimate moments in Stavros’ day, but he asks his viewers to fill in the details. Komater frustrates our voyeuristic impulses, and sidesteps comparisons with, and critiques of, this particular body. In an age of accessible images of nakedness and the ubiquity of selfies, Komater distracts us from the nude form and focuses our attention instead on how we look at it. What exactly do we want to see? www.chriskomater.com
Chris Komater is a San Francisco-based artist. His photographs and sound installations have been shown at Cheryl Haines Gallery, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Mark Wolfe Contemporary Arts, Meridian Gallery, and the LAB Gallery in San Francisco; Jan Kesner Gallery in Los Angeles; Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, and many other venues. He is the recipient of a WESTAF-NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship, a Market Street Art-in-Transit grant, and was the founding director and curator of Secession Gallery, a non-profit gallery without walls in San Francisco, and the online arts venue, Marjorie Wood Gallery. This is Chris’ fourth solo show at the Mercury 20 Gallery.