Cecilia Ulfsdotter Klementsson paints fleshy bodies appropriating nudes from fashion advertising by switching genders and extracting colours in the skin. Keeping Barren’s Ways of seeing in mind, Klementsson take the nude to naked in painted appropriations, from incorporeal to corporeal. Klementsson look through the archives of 1990s and early 2000s fashion advertising, an era when big fashion brands particularly pushed the boundaries of the nude, with Kate Moss and Calvin Klein on the forefront.
While Klementsson take inspiration from the suggestive poses, she also challenge them by having men pose like women and women pose like men. When we are confronted with opposites, differences in male and female poses becomes undeniably more apparent – women seductive but passive, men seductive but active.
The second aspect challenged in Klementsson’s work is the monochromatic skin tones used in advertising, letting the nude seem more sculptural and less morbid – perhaps a strategy for big fashion brands to get away with nudity. Despite this, many of the images Klementsson appropriates were banned in certain places, for example Sofie dahl for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium.
Klementsson limits herself to four colours only, layered on top of each other like a manual printmaking process. The paintings appear hyper realistic from afar but at a closer look the layers of colours are evident. There is a paradox in the colours because the colours are what make the painted surface beautiful but they also reveal the fragility of the flesh. It is the mortality which advertising avoids. Creating an uncanny feeling in seeing men pose in unusual hypersexualised ways with a transparent fragile surface that is not quite right, something is odd. Klementsson use beauty much the same way as advertising – to seduce the viewer to be attracted to the subject. Consequently daring the viewer to be drawn to the subjects despite their colourful flaws.