Art Is Sex in Art still Taboo?

Is Sex in Art still Taboo?

Giorgia Massari

The works of South Korean artist GaHee Park, although initially evoking an idyllic atmosphere, unveil a context where romantic love gives way to a harsher reality. Sexual scenes emerge in contrast to picturesque settings and inconsistent still lifes. Park’s imagery originates from her adolescence. Raised in a conservative and deeply Catholic family, the artist found in art a companion for rebellion. Painting becomes for Park a way to explore taboo themes such as sexuality, nudity, and the female body. Her move to New York to attend art school marked a significant turning point, allowing her to explore some of the most intimate and erotic scenes never previously depicted.

GaHee Park’s journey has not been easy. Being an Asian woman in the United States led Park to perceive a “feeling of invisibility” and almost inhumanity, revealing the deep-seated roots of sexism and racism in society. Unfortunately, the art world has not proven as open as it may seem, especially when it comes to the representation of male nudity and sexuality. Park has noted the conservatism of some collectors and viewers, highlighting the need for a more open and progressive dialogue in the art environment.

Park’s works, appearing as ordinary scenarios but imbued with erotic and sinister undertones, uniquely explore the experience of the body. Mirrors, frames, and fragmented nude bodies populate her works, creating a psychological and voyeuristic dimension in private space. The recurring theme of animals as spectators adds an additional layer of complexity, shedding light on power dynamics present in society.

GaHee Park’s art represents a continuous challenge to social taboos and an invitation to reflect on our values and perceptions. In the context of art often shying away from male nudity, her courageous exploration of sexuality in all its facets sparks a necessary discussion on the representation of the body and the presence of cultural and gender stereotypes in contemporary art.

Courtesy GaHee Park

Written by Giorgia Massari
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