Special Exhibit | Beneath the Skin

Beneath the Skin is the culminating internship project curated by Sager Braudis Gallery intern Linda Pepper of Missouri Valley College. The exhibit was on view for the month of December in the Hall Gallery. Beneath the Skin features the work of Andy Llanes Bultó, Jessica Keiser, Metra Mitchell, Santiago Olazábal, and Mike Sleadd.

The human body is a fascinating and beautiful machine. It’s no wonder that artists have had an innate drive to study and convincingly portray the figure and its beauty throughout the history of art. While essentially universal, the form of the body is entirely unique to each person, and this diversity can be a conduit for recognizing and celebrating, not only in appearances but in views, perspectives, and walks of life. Despite our differences, the factor that unifies us as a species is that each human alive inhabits a body. 

Perhaps what makes the figure fascinating to render, beyond its basic universality, is the life and energy it houses. The human condition, the spirit, the soul, the human consciousness and the search for the meaning of such: these phenomena drive us to search for what is beneath the skin. The portrayal of the figure in a non-sexualized yet authentic context is one artistic manner of approaching our existence and allows us to view the body as an allegory for the inner world. The artists included in this show each have their own approaches to exploring anatomy and to the production of their work.

Andy Llanes Bultó draws on classical knowledge and inspiration from impressionists and photorealists to paint his nude, androgynous figures. He invokes a sense of underlying emotion by emphasizing the contrast of light and dark in a muted palette.

Jessica Keiser also takes a classical but academic approach to depict the body. Her work is introspective and naturalistically rendered with smoothed out details juxtaposed next to hard lines to convey contrast and emotion.

Jessica Keiser, Figure Study 6, 19 x 40, oil on canvas, $500

Mike Sleadd embraces a stylization of the figure with a detailed yet fluid perspective of human forms. He creates an expressive abstraction of a readable figure that speaks outwardly of his inner drive to investigate emotion, style, and flow.

Mike Sleadd, La Fete Nationale 7/14/16, 30 x 22, $2,800

Metra Mitchell’s stylization of figures in an especially painterly approach creates life in a composition by developing an inner narrative that is expressed on the canvas. She explores aspects of humanity such as psychological, social and historical. Movement is made in the figures through flowing colors and forms.

Metra Mitchell, Spatial Memory, 24 x 24, oil on wood, $900

The work of Santiago Olazábal draws upon his understanding of the body, his ancestry, and spirituality as a means for capturing the feeling of a spirit or life force in his work by identifying the energy channels he sees in the form of red dots. He foreshortens and positions the figure to give the viewer a unique perspective to admire the form of the body and the life within it.  

Santiago Olazábal, Registro 1, 14 x 14, mixed media on paper, $1,800

This collection of works investigates the artistic vision that looks to the body as a symbol for an inner state of being. The portrayal of the outer appearance of the human figure is able to speak magnitudes about the non-physical qualities that unite humanity. Beneath the Skin challenges the viewer to set aside the sexual connotations of viewing a nude figure to consider the body as what unites us in our humanity. 

Linda Pepper