BATHERS and The Backroom
August 10th- August 23rd 2018
Curated by Enrico Gomez
Opening Reception: Friday, August 10th, 7-9pm
Four Eleven Gallery
411 Commercial Street
Provincetown, MA 02657
Four Eleven Gallery, in conjunction with The Dorado Project, proudly presents BATHERS and The Backroom, a group art show featuring sixteen leading contemporary artists from New England, the New York area, and beyond that focuses on the male form as subject matter within the art historical and voyeuristically permissive context of the “bathers” genre, a genre which stretches back through Western Art and includes such masterworks as Degas’ Seated Bather (1899), Cezanne’s Les Grandes Baigneuses (1898-1905), and Matisse’s Bathers with a Turtle (1907 – 1908) to name only a few.
For BATHERS, the construction of the show holds as its organizing inspiration, two works of early American Modernism: The Swimming Hole (1884-85) by Thomas Eakins and Tommies Bathing (1918), two watercolors from John Singer Sargent. Viewing these bodies of work in a general rather than specific way, one can trace the shared concerns within these works to those included in the BATHERS grouping, including a focus on the male form within or around bodies of water as well as an ease with regard to the handling this subject matter. This show presupposes the genre of “bathers” to include, among its myriad elements, a lenient framework for the consideration and exploration of the human nude, in this case, the explicitly male. Though our contemporary art climate, especially in Western Art, includes much in the way of tolerance and endorsement of the study of the male figure, this wasn’t always the case. With the exception of Greco-Roman antiquity, the Renaissance, and some mythological scenes from 19th century salon painting, the male nude, as visual subject, was largely absent from much of Art History. From the late 19th century on, the “bathers” genre was not only an arena where the human form could be investigated, but also one where it could be examined in a realistic rather than idealized way.
It is this realism and allegiance to observed physicality, with all its attendant carnality, that may have endowed the male bather subject matter with interest and some safe haven for what might later be called the “gay male gaze”. While BATHERS and The Backroom, certainly includes representations of what could be called the “gay gaze” toward the contemporary male nude, the show is by no means exclusive to this, considering, rather, a wide spectrum of “beholder” including artists from within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. Additionally, this exhibition includes not only direct aesthetic representations of the male form but also abstract gestures and innuendo nods in its direction. Taking this genre from a decidedly contemporary perspective, the many facets of the male figure as subject matter are intended not only representation here but approbation as well.
Alongside this exhibition, Four Eleven Gallery proudly presents The Beginning, a group art show featuring a selection of works from Four Eleven Gallery Provincetown-local artists including Helen Grimm, Pete Hocking, Liz Carney, Janine Evers, Laura Shabott, Julie Smith, and more. Focusing on work from early in each artists’ creative practice, work created in the early hours of the day and/or work that marks the beginning of new streams of thought and inquiry with regard to each artists’ overall body of work, the gallery presents a curated selection by local favorites on the general theme of “beginnings” and how this idea is given specific form based on personal and varied techniques and practices.
Finally, Four Eleven Gallery, in conjunction with The Dorado Project, offers The Backroom, a cordoned off area within the rear gallery which will serve as a nod to the semi-private and lascivious video booths and Gay-bar back rooms of yesteryear wherein viewing and exchanges of a more clandestine nature might be explored. Personal themes and intimate content from many of the artists within both The Beginning and the BATHERS shows will be investigated and celebrated within.
Bathers and The Backroom is the 3rd in a three part series of concurrent exhibitions reconsidering the male figure as visual subject, revealed in the work of contemporary artists from Provincetown, the New York area and more. The series began with:
KOUROS or Collapsing New People, On View through August 19th at M E N, 13 Monroe Street, New York, NY 10002 (weekends 12 - 6pm and by appointment).
The series continued with:
BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies, On View through August 26th at PROTO Gallery, 66 Willow Avenue, Hoboken, NJ 07030 (weekends 11am - 5pm and by appointment). https://www.proto-gallery.com
Bathers and The Backroom is on view at Four Eleven Gallery, 411 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 from August 10th - August 23rd, 2018. For further information please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +1.617.905.7432. All Images subject to copyright.
About Four Eleven Gallery: For over 50 years, the rambling white house at 411 Commercial St. has been a studio and home to many artists and writers. The storefront gallery space, opened in 2011 by Liz Carney, is a true painter’s gallery. It has been said by many locals that the gallery evokes a feeling of old Provincetown.