"Venus Variations is themed on the various representations of the goddess Aphrodite/Venus. The series investigates the character that became an iconic genre saturating cultures all around the world, to convey the ambivalent truth of a subject that is part mythology and part carnality."

Artist: Céline Bodin
Project: Venus Variations

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"Venus is not exactly naked. She represents a cult of the nude. Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Knidos (4th century BC) was the first life-size female nude in Greek history, now lost to history. The statue was a completely new celebration of the human body and a standard of ideal beauty was set to last until our present day. The Cnidian redefined figurative art, before Christian art made the body a sinful entity.

Was she a faithful portrayal of Paxiteles’ rumoured lover, the courtesan Phryne, or a transcendental allegory of an ideal, a realisation of Plato’s principle; the truthfulness of the idea?

Aphrodite was a deity of fertility, sexual power and warfare, once feared by all in a world where physical passion was calmly incorporated to the religious world. She faced a loss of religious fervor and was successfully turned into an object of entertainment, decorum and visual pleasure and desire, emphasising the ambiguity of the genre of the nude. "



"When looking at Venus, are we considering the work of art or the subject of the work itself? Like most Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, her body is very much part of her power. And like many icons, it is difficult to know whether we worship the subject, or its image. The photographs in the series focus our attention on the subtleties of the classical pose and its rhythm, which are constantly echoed in contemporary iconography.

The black and white negative aesthetic of the images reflects upon the way we see Hellenistic and classical sculpture: the white marble without its original pigments, gives a hypnotizing and misleading impression of purity. The bodies become design rather than organism and the tracing of the light accentuates their ambiguous modest gesture, the covering only revealing more of their intimacy. The notion of vanity is also explored as it encompasses the way female identity has been inferred for centuries, especially through the subject of awareness of being observed while naked and the object of the mirror.

The Venus raises the question of appropriate nudity. So I ask myself: is the female experience a legitimate reason to revisit renditions of the female body? Could this be a reassertion of its value, by means of emancipation?

Venus Variations plays on a relic aspect and questions notions of cult and chimera, reflecting the many variations and reimaginations in stories and representations of Venus, and the way they were received. A little like a canvas with many ideas, sometimes following the same lead, sometimes going in different directions, depending on different accounts and visions. Venus Variations is a dreamed rewriting, a celebration."



© Céline Bodin

Curator / Editor : Kiko

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