by Gerry Mak in New Art on Thursday 30 April 2009

Painter Amy Crehore’s paintings of nudes hanging out in the jungle with monkeys, cats, lions, and little kids dressed like clowns remind me bit of Frida Kahlo’s work. Crehore seems to be making a comment about the male gaze — the women in her work seem to be both aware of and indifferent to the masculine lust they inspire.

The animals and children in her paintings are capable of giving and receiving love without lust, and the subjects’ nudity represents freedom and a sense of self (which is why they are often playing instruments) as well as a self-contained sexuality that doesn’t require a partner. In one painting, the Oregon-based artist depicts a male demon figure tied to a tree, thereby emasculating him while allowing him to continue to passively look on. In another painting, a woman masturbates while a child and two animals look on — the child is curious and fascinated, but not lustful, the cat seems knowing, and the third character in the painting has a lustful but ridiculous, cartoonish expression on his face, again, an effort by the artist to diffuse male desire.