The nude is every painter’s exercise, a master’s valuable series. It is where personal style and sensibility become stark – testing a painter’s commitment to practice, rooting
him or her to craft which is an essential mark of serious aesthetics. The breadth and depth of variety and potential of the appropriated and actual woman is best expounded in the female nude. In Ode to a beautiful nude, Sequi Cu Unjieng gently inspects and celebrates this puzzle of womanhood, this enigma of an empire. Ode to a beautiful nude is Sequi speaking as a woman about women.
The beauty of the woman is exuded in the austere elements that make up each frame
of the series. The image of Sequi’s women is without pomp, sans brash surfaces of social identity. In her aim to strip the woman of anything that would possibly lead to a superficial grasp, Sequi produces an expanse of identity. Her nudes perform the various layers of the woman, somewhat becoming sites where at one time or another, our own faces emerge from Sequi’s faceless figures.
Each nude is not set apart by particular physical features but through a vibe, a pose, or a gesture that would give away the subject’s significant trait. Sequi chooses to depict the anonymous women as they walk away, confront, mingle and dream. Ode to a beautiful nude astutely identifies such layers that women encompass – at times extremes, at best complementary. The woman teeters and swings through ends and absolutes so naturally that binaries are cancelled out – the woman is certain particulars (regality, ferocity, independence, loyalty, joie de vivre, calculating) at the same a seamless whole. As much as the ambivalence of the woman is found in the lack of features of Sequi’s nudes, the confidence of her lines and the intentionally limited color range of the artist’s palette celebrate the severer, and more controlled side of the woman.
The identities of the sitters are unknown. In this ambiguity, the nudes become one consistent woman in every frame – and not. They are figures that become the collective woman – women – and the individual woman. As they are stripped of any indication of roles – mother, daughter, friend, lover, worker, martyr, kontrabida – what is magnified is the intersection of many contradictory qualities in every woman.
Ode to a beautiful nude is Sequi’s first solo exhibition. She remakes what is closest to her, making every vibe of the sitter operate on an intuitive pull. In such modest aesthetics, Sequi manages to produce a visual vocabulary of women that is touching and intimate. Ode to a beautiful nude is a tribute to all women and the multitudes that they contain.
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