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Non Erotic, Sensual Nudes

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Chan Chao Profiled in Photo-Eye
photo eye
Denise Wolff has a terrific discussion and interview with Chan Chao in the current issue of Photo-Eye.

Wolff discusses Chao’s recent show at Numark Gallery, and almost right away makes an important point in placing Chao’s elegant nudes within the always odd context of nudity in Washington, DC; Wolff goes as far as to describe Washington as a “town generally squeamish with nudity.”

nude by chan chaoAnd (in my opinion) made even worse by a WaPo critic who is also “squeamish with nudity.”

Among Wolff’s many interesting questions to Chao (which revealed a few somewhat surprising facts – at least to me), I found this one particularly telling:

DW: As I looked at this work, I made a mental list of words that came to mind about the images. But I noticed later that my list didn’t include the word erotic. Do you intend these photos to be erotic?

CC: No. I did not want these images to be erotic. I think it’s too easy to create erotic photos. However, since they are nudes, the undertone is always there. And so even though I don’t intend for them to be erotic, I do want to create some tension with it, or maybe even discomfort…

This is important, because I think that what makes Chao’s display of the female nude stand out hinges on his ability to achieve precisely what Wolff identifies with this question: An ability to take an inherently sensual subject, present it in a manner that doesn’t shout erotica, but retains a certain, unavoidable scent of eroticism; it can’t be helped.

The first time that I saw these photos at Numark, I did not see them as erotic at all. And yet, a second visit to them left behind a slight footprint of eroticism in my mind; perhaps the direct gaze of the women – who knows? It’s not important as to “why” but that it happened.

This Photo-Eye piece by Wolff leaves us watering at the mouth for more pieces (on national level magazines such as this one is) about some of our area artists; it a great start with one of our own art stars… but more please!

Bravo Wolff!

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  • Eric Olsen

    call the Viagra hotline, the Boner Phone

  • Angela Chen Shui

    Sensitive interview; perceptive, political and effective artist; wonderful nudes.

    I liked the interactive feeling of relationship I got from viewing the work… and resonated with Chan Chao’s ‘…these nudes are about being looked at and being looked back at… having the subject look back at you.’

  • SFC Ski

    To some level, nudes will always have an erotic connotation, it depends more on the viewer than the setting.

  • fhjfjff

    SFC Ski [Deleted]

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