MATADORAS …make it look like an accident



Live drawing at Thierry Marlat gallery June 2018, photo Carl Graham

The idea of the muse as a vehicle of male fantasy is deeply rooted in contemporary culture: man creates, woman inspires. It’s been this way for centuries and consequently has been seen as an obstacle for women’s emancipation. Well, I’ve been on Marcus Kreiss’ pedestal as a muse for the last two years and I have never fallen off as I was never highly idealised.

As the Victorian argument that “sex is a man’s need and women just endure it” is fading, it feels to me that the art world must move in the same direction. When the female muse is still seen as the finest vision of the yin part of the male artist, she is reduced to an object without any agency. One could compare the latter to the myth of Eve being created from the rib of Adam. Not to forget that the role of the classic nude since the Greeks was to make man feel like God. That’s why a female nude has always been divine, spotless, and, therefore, stripped off its sexuality: it is sacralised.

In that sense, I have always been depicted proudly naked by Marcus Kreiss and never as a ‘nude’: Marcus’ art is undeniably and unapologetically naked art, not nude. Of course, through art’s history the boundaries between the nude and the naked has been broken so many times. But despite the fact that the nude has never ceased to be greatly admired by the art world, its reaction to its presence has dramatically altered. Nowadays, we tend to reduce to mere sexism anything that depicts naked girls and men with dicks. Our personal judgment is conforming to the art world norms and as a result ‘’art’’ becomes a luxury.

I could easily compare the scandal around Marcus Kreiss’ work to the scandal of Olympia by Manet in 1863. For instance, Olympia was perceived as naked, not nude and the muse was a known prostitute, therefore the scandal. Also, its proportions were bigger

than Titian’s Venus (its inspiration), usually used for religious representations only. Many of the acceptable pseudo-erotic paintings today are small sized and are depicting models or pop idols. In Marcus Kreiss’ paintings, sex is big as its need to find its political importance today, there’s no hiding. Most importantly, in his art there are no good and bad women. He usually paints sex workers, nude models or random powerful women of all ages, sizes and cultures. Obviously, his art is driven by the female power and not by the female beauty (whatever the latter is). The argument of old-school feminism that pornography is made by and for men, only disempowers female sexuality. So it causes further fragmentation of art to ‘’erotic art’’. Marcus’ lustful super-women fuck as nastily as men do, because they’re subjects of desire, not objects. It is art made to make the viewer contemplate, not to simply entertain.

To sum up, it seems to me that the art world is re-adopting the same puritan criteria of an acceptable public nude as 16th century European art did: art has to be asexual, otherwise it’s not art. But what is an acceptable female nude and of course feminist friendly? Does the muse need to be sweet and ethereal? Spotless and ‘’a good girl’’? Why is a fashion model always a better nude choice than a punk queer sex worker? Due to cultural illiteracy, we ignore that the muses of some of the greatest paintings in history where joyful and proud prostitutes: The Young Ladies of Avignon, Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge’s prostitutes, Schiele’s exhibitionist women, the Grande Odalisque and many others.

Personally, I always felt that I was penetrating Marcus’ psyche as a muse and vice versa: it was always a dialogue between two artists. Because when we both believe that there’s no political freedom without sexual freedom, it cannot go wrong. We are equal.

Feminism is not men against women, it is not women against men, It is solidarity against the toxic brainwashing by the corporate culture. That to me is what equality really means.