“She’s got it, Yeah, baby, she’s got it. I’m your Venus, I’m your fire…”
The 80s British girl pop group Bananarama puts it best in their hit “Venus”. “Goddess on the mountain top, Burning like a silver flame, The summit of beauty and love, And Venus was her name..” The goddess inspires both love and desire, and her image has been captured in many incarnations.
The inspiration as well as the direct reference for the above two pieces by Lee Waisler from “Kinetic Energy”, opening this week in New York, is Sandro Botticelli’s famous rendition of the beautiful goddess. (In a timely coincidence Botticelli’s Venus will be on view in the United States for the first time as part of a touring exhibition of sixteen paintings, traveling first to Virginia and then Boston.) In Venere, Botticelli shows Venus from the bust up. A similar looking Venus also stars in Botticelli’s best known, as well as most controversial painting, The Birth of Venus. Originally meant to hang above a marital bed, the sinfully sensuous work has long been hailed as one of Botticelli’s masterpieces.
Sandro Botticelli and workshop, Venere (Venus) half body detail.
The sensational story behind both versions of Venus is that the model was the love of Botticelli’s life, Simonetta Vespucci, wife of Marco Vespucci. Simonetta died tragically of tuberculosis at 22 years of age. Botticelli continued rendering her likeness in his work even after her death, including her in numerous paintings until the end of his life when he requested to be buried at her feet at the church of the Vespucci in Florence. Hailed as the most beautiful woman in Florence, as well as the Renaissance, Simonetta was Botticelli’s own Venus. The artist’s unrequited love for the young woman transformed the visual landscape of his time, and continues to captivate to this day.
Sandro Botticelli and workshop, The Birth of Venus, 1486. Uffizi, Florence
Waisler captures the loving and delicate quality of line, so evident in Botticelli’s work, in both the sculpture as well as the work on canvas. For Waisler, the material is instrumental to the meaning of his work. The artist sees each element as an integral part of the whole of the artwork. The sinuous flowing lines, attention to movement as well as an inner symbolic meaning behind each line and element imparts a balanced and evocative quality to both compositions.
The floating wall sculpture creates a double image from shadow and light, playing with the idea of positive and negative as well as three dimensional space, giving even more nuance to the composition. In both the sculpture as well as the sculptural painting there is a dialogue between the source image, Waisler’s interpretation of it, as well as the physical properties of the medium, giving new life to both Simonetta and the goddess.
JoAnne Artman Gallery, Presents:“Kinetic Energy” Featuring Lee Waisler || March 16, 2017 - April 29th, 2017 || Reception: Thursday, March 16th, 2017 from 6pm-8pm RSVP: 949.510.5481
New York Location - 511 A West 22nd St. New York NY 10011 || Laguna Beach - 326 North Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA 92651