Art in the Bluegrass The Nude: Brutal Beauty

Jen Roytz


Beginning in January, the Lexington Art League will present their annual figure exhibition, which has earned a reputation nationally over the past several decades for pushing the boundaries far beyond traditional nude art and examine the subject from various perspectives. This year’s collection, titled The Nude: Brutal Beauty, will be a collection of contemporary pieces that explore the human form through qualities such as satisfaction, pleasure and comfort, which are so common, yet often private.   

“This year’s theme, The Nude: Brutal Beauty, was inspired by local artist Patrick Smith,” said the Lexington Art League’s Executive Director Stephanie Harris. “He is an extraordinary painter who has this ability to capture an unmatched realism with his work. His portraits are very raw and real. He seems to not only focus on his subject’s figure, but also get to the essence of who they are as people.”

A call to artists was well-received, with submissions coming in from around the world. Pieces included in The Nude: Brutal Beauty exhibition will be selected by an informal curatory board comprised of Jack Gerard of Transylvania University, Daniel Graham of Georgetown College, Mary Rezny of M.S. Rezny Gallery, Alex Brooks from 21C Museum and Ed Frankin, a Lexington artist who works extensively with grassroots exhibition development.

“Our goal is to create a show of excellence, so it’s important to have a selection committee that is very insightful and educated, as well as passionate about the work,” said Harris.

“One of our primary goals is to put our local artists in a national context. We have several pieces from Moremen Molony Gallery, Adam Schulman and a Cambodian artist by the name of Vinhay Keo. We also have some sculpture entries from British Columbia that are amazing.”

While many may think of a nude figure exhibition as a traditional study of the body, this year’s The Nude: Brutal Beauty collection will push well past those self-imposed boundaries, making bold statements and representing a board cross-section of geographic, demographic, gender-based and societal and perspectives expressed through paintings, photography, three-dimensional works and video.

“Art is our record-keeping,” said Harris. “What we see in art today will be our history tomorrow.” •

The Nude: Brutal Beauty  exhibition will be on display at the Lexington Art League’s Loudoun House (209 Castlewood Dr. in Lexington) and will run from January 27th through March 11th, 2018, with the ticketed Opening Celebration event on January 26th from 7pm-11pm. Visit for gallery hours and to purchase tickets to the January 26th exhibition launch event.