Rebecca Campbell, American, born 1971
oil on canvas
Gift of Vicki and Kent Logan
© Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Ken Howie.
The two figures in this work inhabit an idyllic landscape bathed in a golden light. The elegant reclining female nude appears to come from the tradition of odalisques – oriental female figures painted for the pleasure of the male gaze. However, Campbell’ s figure turns her back on the viewer and actively watches her male companion who appears lost in thought or contemplation. This detail inverts the traditional relationship at the basis of paintings of female nudes. The beautiful woman in this image is an active presence and it is the male that is depicted as passive and unattainable. The precisely detailed figures and trees cohabit with exquisite passages of abstract painting that define the ground and sky and flatten any sense of volume. The tension between these painting styles mirrors a sense of unease that is at the core of this painting.