The Monumental exhibition by Lucian Freud at the Aquavella Gallery includes a series of large-scale works by the artist from different periods of his life. We find the artist's most well-known work included: the nudes painted in his London studio.
Lucian Freud was a painter who stood apart from trends and different movements. Although he connects his studies of the nude to the European academic tradition, the artist represents the human body from a rebellious and transgressive perspective, in contrast to classic beauty canons. His paintings show us characters exposed before the scrutinizing gaze of the artist, who makes no distinction about their status or social class, presents them all equally, naked, vulnerable, and delivered.
Freud acts like a surgeon, he tries to pierce his armor and decipher the anatomy and psychology that support him. The brushstrokes are heavy and resounding. They do not pretend to embellish but rather to dissect. The nuances of the flesh are depicted by the different layers of paint, and the contrast between the cold colors, green, blue, violet, and the warm, orange, ocher, pink, create a chromatic spectrum that depicts the tremulous skin and the pulse that runs through it.
It is this way of taking advantage of the carnality of painting, (understood as a modulable and living material) to express the human body´s condition, that makes Freud's work stand out. We can glimpse the influence of Soutin, in his fascination for entrails, and that of Ribera, in his ability to represent the passage of time in his skins and skulls.
Freud does not look for attractiveness, nor decipher the soul, but as he said: "to represent people and to let them be themselves". Affirmation that is paradoxical for a realistic painter who does not hesitate to distort the proportions of his models. Perhaps there is his genius, in his ability to understand imperfection as part of beauty.