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Prime first collection from the Anais Nin of painting,
This review is from: Let Them Eat Cheesecake (The Art of Olivia, Vol. 1) (Hardcover)
Cheesecake, n. Slang. photographs featuring a view of an attractive woman's legs and body.
Cute title, which is a take on the phrase Marie Antoinette plagiarized from a Polish princess. Hugh Hefner's description of artist Olivia de Berardinis as the Anais Nin of contemporary fantasy graphic art, or as being for the 1990's what Alberto Vargas was to the 1940's and 1960's is highly apropos. After all, Nin championed for female rights to fantasy, and the drawings of Olivia have the same aim.
Her drawings, most of them tasteful but erotically-charged nudes, might as well be characters in fantasy novels, such as zebra-women, women with plumed wings, and mermaids. Vanity, yes, the one famous for her liaison with Prince, is drawn with cat years and tail using gouache. The zebra-lady, whose skin has stripes like a zebra and who sports a main running from her forehead all the way down, is also a highlight. Her capture of Bella Schol's unique but subtle sneer in her gouache and pencil drawing "Whiplash" is another.
Olivia's uses oil prepared with gesso (gypsum prepared with glue) and gouache, the latter being opaque watercolours prepared with gum, as well as watercolours, acrylics, and pastels, often using more than one medium per drawing. The way she paints bare skin, be it pale, light brown, with shading that makes it so real is what attracted me to her drawings, as is the glossy finish she uses on some of her acrylics, which in her words, make them come alive.
Included in the intro is a letter Alberto Vargas wrote to Olivia dated 14 June 1979. The appendix is a plethora of useful background information, as it lists each painting, the title, year made, dimensions, and the medium used, the model where applicable, and sometimes, comments by Olivia or her husband Joel Beren. In the case of the cover drawing, it's titled "Devil's Food", dimensions 40"x30", watercolor, gouache on board, with Rhonda Ridley-Scott being the model. Olivia says she was inspired by Milton Greene's photos of Marilyn, "with a nod to the Cheshire cat."
Among the models used are Vanity, Marilyn Monroe-lookalike Rhonda Ridley Scott, Pamela Anderson, and Bella Schol. She also does likenesses of Bettie Page and Josephine Baker, based on photographs. But the real Page probably never had a full-bodied black panther chasing a mouse tattooed down her back (Cat And Mouse).
The commentary by Olivia in the back shows her to be a very creative and self-assured woman who uses her paintings to reflect the mood she's trying to elicit, be it something with a lighter touch or something aggressively splashed. The main thing is that the women of her paintings are those "in control of their own sexuality, who choose their partners, and choose to be dominant or submissive, and not be admonished for their decisions." This goes back to the Anais Nin comparison. I have my friend Erick Vaneckhoutte in Farmington to thank me for introducing me to Olivia.
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