To me, summer is a state of undress. It’s bathing suits worn as bras in anticipation of a potential swim. It’s running around in a t-shirt and cut-offs, with as few pieces of underwear as possible. It’s loose limbs and undone hair, cotton dresses that don’t quite cover, blisters, sunburns, tans, and bare feet.
Much like my introductory paragraph, Clare Elsaesser’s paintings could be read as sexual. They feature waifs, thin and graceful, covered by flowers or standing in a colorful, kaleidoscopic mess of blues and greens. They’re walking through sun-dappled woods, faces covered but legs nude, or emerging from water that has been abstracted into flat planes, blocks of color. While Elsaesser mutes the backgrounds, she applies a much tighter hand to her romantic heroines and her shockingly pink blossoms. These girls are lovely in their anonymity, sweet and floral and free.
And yet to me, there is nothing overly sexy about the summer state. The lack of clothes are not for show; they’re for my body, which craves warm air and the wash of sun. That is, I think, what makes it so great. Clare’s girls aren’t being stared at by predatory eyes. They’re relaxed, languorous, sensual yet not quite sexual.
I love these paintings so much, that I am going to buy myself one for my birthday (coming up in 10 days!). I also wanted to share them, because they are too pretty to keep to myself, and I think she’s talented in a way that makes me envious. It’s like the girls in the sketches; I want to be seen (and to see) in this way.
Buy a Clare Elsaesser print here. They are very affordable, just don’t buy the one I want, kay?