Artist Guy James Whitworth has made a name for himself painting vibrant nudes of the fierce and fabulous young things who populate Sydney. But for his latest exhibition, One Day You’ll Understand, he’s choosing age before beauty – or rather, finding the beauty in age. Though still made up of the portraits and nudes he is known for, all of Whitworth’s models for the exhibition are over the age of 45, with the oldest being 84.
“I like my exhibitions to have a theme, and twelve years ago I had my first Sydney show called The Power Of Youth And Beauty – this is really a follow up, or even a reply, to that,” Whitworth told the Star Observer.
“This new work explores the attitude and aesthetics of aging and what it means to grow older in a society that doesn’t always appreciate or value that.”
Having recently turned 40 himself, the British-born, Sydney-based artist found himself naturally gravitating toward themes of aging as he assembled the works for the exhibition, which will be on display at Chippendale’s Pine Street Gallery for two weeks from October 19.
“Last year I had an exhibition, Like Neon Within, made up of just nudes, that was a real turning point and taught me to really look past the physical and try to capture the inner strength and character of my sitter.
“The rest of it is just ink on paper – that’s the easy bit!”
“The plus is that I can still knock myself a tailored three-piece suit together if I need one in a hurry,” he chuckled.
One could argue that fashionable flair still finds its way into his artworks – along with a strong queer, camp aesthetic.
“I like that my art is very unapologetically and quite obviously queer and camp. I hope it shows that each of us is in some way individually beautiful, even in an unconventional way. I like that it both offends and emotionally connects with people,” he said.
And while he may have been used to painting fit young things, Whitworth said he found much to appreciate in the older models he painted for One Day You’ll Understand.
“I find older models can bring a certain something younger models don’t. Its hard to define and explain exactly what that is, but it’s the opposite of vanity; it’s the voice of experience and can manifest as an attitude that is both defiant and dynamic.
“How we choose to see aging certainly has to change. After all, without exception it is the one experience we will all share.”
INFO: One Day You’ll Understand, Pine Street Gallery, October 19-30 www.guyjameswhitworth.com