I DON’T THINK SO. WHO WANTS THIS GOING DOWN IN POSTERITY? BUT THEN AGAIN WE SEEM TO BE A BUNCH OF CRAZY CREATURES!
An invention of artists Jennifer Rubell and Brandi Twilley, Brad Jones is not just the name of the duo’s upcoming show at Sargent’s Daughters. He is a presence in their artistic process, as well as a symbol of the kind of stereotypical white male artist whose work is likely to be found hanging on a museum wall. “We think of him as this sort of character,” Rubell said, “[He’s] maybe an art handler at Gagosian. That kind of guy, a great modern painter.” WHAT? A GREAT MODERN PAINTER? THIS IS A GREAT MODERN PAINTER?
RUBELL IS NAKED GIVING THE INTERVIEW! EXCEPT FOR SOCKS, GOTTA HAVE SOCKS!
Rubell is perched on a stool inside a chilly, industrial Williamsburg studio, wearing nothing but a pair of heavy-duty ski socks. It is a natural pose, one that she has taken many times over the past year and half of her collaboration with Twilley.
A PAINTING GANG BANG?
The partnership began, as so many have, when Rubell posted an ad on NYFA. She was initially looking for several macho male artists to paint her all at once in a kind of “painting gang bang,” as she puts it. But once Twilley’s work landed in her inbox, she couldn’t get it out of her head. Brad Jones was born.
The works are all diptychs, varying in degrees of realism, which show Rubell or a negative space where she would be, as is sometimes the case, naked and confronting the viewer head on. They are strong, arresting images that present the nude female body in a raw and human way. They inhabit that rare ground between the perfectly airbrushed and the wholly unappealing, where a woman is allowed to be a real person.
CONSIDER PUTTING ON A SHIRT!
“Nothing is done for the paintings. We don’t arrange the studio for [them]. There’s nothing I do for my body…it’s just as I am that day,” Rubell explains. There is also a palpable level of relaxation in the works that’s a testament to the mutual respect and enjoyment the women share. While it is Twilley doing the painting, they agree that they are both represented equally in the end product.
Rubell says that the process of sitting for a painted portrait, something few people in the 21st century will ever get to experience, is one of the most meditative experiences she has ever had. “When you’re being painted, you’re sitting for so long that you just kind of arrive at yourself,” she says.
WHAT, CLIMB INTO THE CRATES? THIS IS WHAT PASSES FOR ART THESE DAYS?
After finishing a diptych, Rubell and Twilley have a ritual. They climb into a large wooden box suspended on the wall, originally intended to be the viewing platform for the exhibition, and examine the pieces. It is the perfect place to view art—the space is clean and white, the light is bright, and the works sit at eye-level. There are no distractions, nothing to cloud your judgement or line of sight. The pair eventually decided against using the boxes for the show out of fear that they would become distracting. “It’s putting another frame around the work that doesn’t need to be there…it makes it more experiential, and the experience of the painting is [ultimately] undermined,” Rubell says.
Rubell says this about how she feels looking at herself nude. She says she is “the least exhibitionist person,” but I also imagine that anyone cool with inviting a journalist to witness something like this must have solid confidence. “You go through life and you’re seeing yourself in relation to so many things, like other people that you know, your former self, and of course, in relation to images in popular culture,” she says. “And now I really see myself in relation to my depicted self, which is a much more pleasurable experience because your depicted self actually has this kind of iconic strength, whereas thinking of yourself in relation to Kim Kardashian or some other celebrity is an unrewarding thought process.”
WELL LET’S ALL GO AND GET OUR PORTRAITS PAINTED WEARING ONLY SOCKS. MAKE IT A NEW TRADITION! IT’S SO “EXPERIENTIAL”-DOES ANYONE GET THE IDEA AS TO WHY ARTISTS DON’T MAKE MONEY?
MAYBE A BOOB JOB WOULD BE A BETTER INVESTMENT