The Nude, Inverted

PAIGE JOHNSON | THE SPECTRUM
Emma Beatrez (pictured), paints one of her inverted nudes. The artist has always been interested in the human body as inspiration, but recently began painting in the negative.

Something’s a little off with Emma Beatrez’s nude portraits. The junior in art at NDSU takes a different approach to her study of the human body through artwork: inverting the image.

“I had a more realistic nude portrait that was rejected from two different shows,” Beatrez explained. “I was thinking of ways that I could possibly make it so it’s more of an approachable thing … So, by doing them in an inverted form, it kind of abstracts the image a little bit and it helps the viewer focus more on the color and the form and the anatomy of the figure.”

For the most part, Beatrez said, she’s been painting the human figure. She explained she’s always been more interested in the “versatility” of the forms and has more control over the image than something stable, like a landscape.

Beatrez also tends to paint more females than males, although this is a bit unintentional.

“I just haven’t had many male models,” she explained. “I think the female body is just more accessible to me. That’s pretty much the only reason. I’ve been trying to reach out to guys more, but it just hasn’t happened yet.”

EMMA BEATREZ | PHOTO COURTESY
After her traditional nudes were rejected from art shows, Emma Beatrez decided to take a different approach to the common artwork by inverting the images, like in ‘Nude on Chair’ (pictured here).

Her artwork also experiments with many factors, including lighting, positioning of the bodies, tattoo work or even just physical characteristics of the models. She’s also been starting to incorporate saran wrap into her works.

“For those specific ones, it was just an idea I was trying out,” Beatrez said. “It was more of, like, an environmental route that I was going with. I’m not really sure if I want to stay with that. It was just kind of another idea that I was working out with the inverted paintings, playing off of the negative. Like that word, negative.”

And while Beatrez has been working on physical forms for much of her art experience, inverting the images has been a recent discovery and exploration of the subject, in more ways than one.

First, Beatrez said, it was taking a very common aspect of art and changing it, making it something new.

“It’s such a normal thing in art to have portrayed,” she said, referencing her nudes’ rejections from art the shows. “The inspiration for (inverted nudes) was having the realistic form rejected for being nude. Solely for that reason. It was kind of frustrating, actually. I think at first, it was a rebellious type of action towards it. I think it’s more educational now than how I thought it might go.”

Second, Beatrez’s work incorporates something very present in our everyday life: technology.

“(Viewers) can use their phone or any digital device to invert the photo of the painting back to the realistic form through their camera. They can kind of use that as a looking glass to study the portrait, see it in the realistic form,” Beatrez explained. “I think this kind of brings the classical and contemporary to a meeting point, and that’s kind of what I like about it. It’s catering to the digital age that we’re going towards.”

Overall, the reception has been positive.

“People are really interested in how it works,” she said. “The shock factor of inverting the image back, people don’t really expect it to look as realistic as it does.”

To see regular updates of Emma Beatrez’s work, visit her Instagram page: emma.beatrez.

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