Back in the days when people asked ‘does my bum look big in this?’ rather than ‘does my bum look big enough?’, they were certainly large in John Kacere’s paintings, generally at 3 x life-size. I credit Julie Verhoeven’s admirably eccentric Instagram stream (see my weekly column ‘Creative on Instagram, 20 May) with reminding me recently of the obsessive oeuvre of Kacere (1920-99).
For thirty years from 1969, he focused almost exclusively on the photorealist depiction of lingerie-clad midriffs of the conventionally idealised white female – with just a few fuller bodies in the 80’s. But was he the Morandi of the arse, finding abstract qualities in a figurative subject while also channeling elements of landscape, still life and portrait? Or is the whole enterprise a narrowing and objectionable objectification?
Kacere, presumably thinking back to Courbet’s ‘L’Origine du monde’, explained that ‘Woman is the source of all life, the source of regeneration. My work praises that aspect of womanhood.’ I guess the British comparator is Allen Jones, who says he is a feminist who realised his sculptures of women as furniture ‘would be seriously irreverent. But I was only interested in what impact it would have on art language.’ The jury is out on both, I reckon.
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head