The Rub: Viewing Art with Familiarity and Discomfort

Hannah Dean

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This First Friday was busy-- it was the night of both my and my studio-mate/friend’s MFA thesis shows, as well as many other go-worthy exhibitions in the Lubbock Cultural District. One in particular was The Rub: Drawings by Ghislaine Fremaux in David Echol’s CASP home and studio gallery.


During dinner, I was telling my mom, dad, and aunt where all they should visit while on FFAT. When describing Ghi’s work to them, I said “it’s like the Greek gods, but huge and colorful, with two-foot wieners.” They giggled (well, dad didn’t, it’s probably not fun to hear that kind of phrase from your youngest.) After dinner, I made a point to sneak over to Ghi’s show before the trail began, to give it a look in person. Her large, masterful, domineering works make me rethink the hierarchy that painting and drawing have been so bound to. On occasion, the head is left off of the body, or sketched in, yet the scrotum has been lovingly rendered out through her soft, skin-like pastels.

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I began to think about how we, as artists, and as appreciators, approach artwork. In my description to my parents, I felt the need to historicize, to contextualize the drawings in some familiar way, in order to play down any perversion, or “adult themes.” However, when looking, really looking, at these monolith’s, they ratify complicitness. Their size, the angle from which they are viewed, and their overwhelming visual (and conceptual) sensuality command participation. They are of the now, not the “then” (though masterful in form). Maybe it is my intellectual need to make her images chaste, mythological. Maybe the contradiction of those ideas is the point. I slink away from her exhibition, back to my own, tail between my legs. My work feels lifeless now, devoid of the fleshy glory that Ghi’s works project.


Image courtesy of Ghi Fremaux "Aaron"

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