Paintings from the Renaissance period portray nudity in the rawest, real, passionate way there ever was. However, the end of that era did not mean the end of nude art. This form of art is still very much in existence even today although behind closed doors. Nude art models live a double life, but we wonder why. Is it because society cannot deal with something as real as nudity, or was nude art just a Renaissance thing? Bingedaily spoke to a nude art model who tells us what life is behind-the-scenes.
Is nude modelling something recent?
Arol (the name he goes by in his profession) was attracted to arts since he was a child. What began as painting went on to grow into a passion for modelling for painters. “A nude is very pure, like water. Male grace is important while posing. The beauty of fine art modelling exists since ancient times when people started the sculptures of humans.”
Modelling was important to study the movements of man, his expressions and more. People may believe that nude art modelling started recently, but think back to paintings done by Leonardo Da Vinci and so many others who studied the anatomy of man. Man is art.
How does one begin as a nude art model?
The journey to being a nude art model has its own set of challenges, setbacks and it’s only after a series of ups and downs does one get one big break. “I got inspired by the idea of posing when I first started exploring my body. It had magnificent ways of telling stories. There was a time when I use to practice nude posing in front of the mirrors and to maintain the record of the best poses I use to capture the process. I then researched and got into fine arts.”
“I researched poses. Contrary to what people think, nude art is not just about being naked and striking a pose. Rather, it translates to posing in a way that the beauty of the body can be reflected. I experimented, tried, failed, learnt.”
What does being a fine art model involve?
For Arol, his profession involves posing for aspiring and professional artists in classrooms, holding poses for hours on end, posing for student artists, making gestures to display the impression that the artist wants. Confidence is an important attribute for art models.
“It all began when I was in Delhi and visited the college art gallery to know more. I started an Instagram account in 2016. I found an art student who was willing to draw a fine art model and connected and it was my very first time posing. That's when I revealed my identity - my face. I received immense support and it gave me the confidence to work more. Today I am known to many art students because the artwork is my identity.”
Does it ever get uncomfortable posing nude?
“Yes, I've been working as a figure model part-time for almost 5 years now. Posing can sometimes be a little tough at first, but once I drop my clothes the only thing I focus on is trying to hold still and pose.”
“The first few seconds when I am naked, I do get conscious but it is all-natural after this. The toughest for me would be during the winter. The cold brings along with it challenges of its own. I think this is the toughest for nude models to pose openly, as an erection follows. Yoga has helped immensely to combat these challenges.”
Arol says there were times when he started off, where he felt uncomfortable as he did not have a figure. “It's very tough to be nude because of our identity, our face is in front of everyone.
What are the challenges that nude art models face?
“My work has sometimes been categorised as porn and I’ve often received hateful comments about my private parts. In our country nudity is met with hatred. It is very rare to find nude models who pose openly. There is a lot of stigma associated with modelling, a lot of judgement, struggle and issues associated with safety.”
“I challenge people to look at nude art modelling as a human art form but it worries all because of the assumptions that it carries. It is hard work, low pay and learning to hold a pose that will be useful to students who insist on making a ‘careful drawing’.”
Arol emphasises the importance of posing for hours in the same position. “The problem is that few people may never understand the integrity, intensity and importance of the human anatomy portrayed through art. A shift in the positions of their bodies may change the shadows and contours, which makes it difficult for artists to capture the model's form correctly. Models need to have the physical stamina to sit, stand or lay down in various positions for as long as the artist or instructor requires.”
As India is becoming more receptive to nudity and it is portrayed in pictures and art, the barrier still needs to be broken down.