Carmen Aldunate (1940 - )

Sueño (1969)

Acrylic on paper
height: 54cm
width: 75cm

On loan from Ruby Reid Thompson


As is evident from this early work held by ESCALA, the female figure has been a consistent subject for Aldunate's painting, and in the mid-seventies she joined a group of artists associated with the neo-figurative school. Aldunate mastered classical techniques of painting and drawing, which are combined with stylistic appropriations from medieval and early renaissance works. In producing such images she places the idealised female figure at the centre. Casting her female figures in the set of roles established by the history of painting, such as martyr, nun or courtesan, Aldunate uses a refined technique and a deceptively elegant humour to point toward the history of the female subject of pictorial representation. Although unrelated by contact or influence, such a line of enquiry, motivated by a critical examination of female subjectivity, begs a productive comparison with that followed by the photography of Cindy Sherman (particularly where many of her portraits subtly resemble Aldunate herself).

This work reflects the distinctively subjective or interior emphasis that characterises her work of the 1960s and early seventies. The doubled figure suggests a psychological splitting: a moment of anxious wakefulness replacing the traditional repose of the reclining female nude. The contrast between soft amorphous body and darkly detailed facial features is also characteristic of her work of this period. The female nude is a consistent subject; Aldunate's later work often displays the female figure inappropriately stripped: exposed at the centre of a lavishly detailed and decorated renaissance or medieval scene.

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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