Over the past two years, Lane Sell and Phil Rabovsky have tackled a series of related questions in their figurative work: Who controls the representation of a subject? How can one person use another person’s body ethically? What are the artist’s obligations to the model’s desire to be represented? The Model and Her Artist presents two parallel, ongoing investigations into these concerns.Rabovsky’s work engages the power and gender functions inscribed in the “masterly” medium of oil painting, and Sell’s investigates touch and manipulation inherent to the physical impressions of printmaking processes.
Who does the work in art? The Model and Her Artist presents five pieces each by Rabovsky and Sell, an extended series of notes that chart collaborations, conversations, objections, rejections, revisions, repetitions, and redistributions of artistic authority.
In his paintings, Phil Rabovsky’s models interpret works of classical sculpture. These canonical representations define the basic composition of the work and begin a discussion about what the source work means to each collaborator, and what ideas the model wants to engage in her self-representation. As the paintings develop, artist and model meet to review and to revise them in accordance with the model’s wishes. Richly scopophilic and intensely confrontational, the resulting works shift the faultline between active viewer and pleasurable object as much as that between active masculine creator and passive feminine muse.
Lane Sell’s work with filmmaker and writer Rachel Garber Cole extends an exploration of body printing and silkscreen. Beginning with a sketch process, Sell and Cole experiment by using Ms. Cole’s grease-coated body to make impressions on paper, which are selectively dusted with pigment. When they have found figures and compositions which they wish to develop, a series of silkscreens are made by direct impression of portions of Cole’s body. Sell uses these collaboratively generated elements to create canvases using silkscreen and loose pigment. The prints, driven by gravity, chance, grace, and raunch, are shadow narratives about the experience of being a body, subject to violent transcendence.