Cynthia Westwood’s Paintings of Modern Nudes Bathing

by CaroPosted on

Throughout art history, water has been a symbol that is rich with tradition. Water is responsible for life on Earth and an important part of our natural being; it has the power to cleanse, nurture and heal. Texas-born artist based in the UK, Cynthia Westwood, carries on this tradition in her oil paintings of nudes bathing. Her imagery has been labeled as erotic, even feminist, but depicting nudity is not central to her work. Like that of American impressionist Mary Cassatt, Westwood’s art can be described as “special by not being special”. Here, we witness every day women taking part in what appears an every day act. Her use of nudity exposes the female body in an intimate way that is still dignified. Often times, as in the painting “Nickel Tub”, the bather sits half-submerged in a tub that is too shallow for washing. Baptisms, however, traditionally take place in shallow tubs or pools. It’s a peaceful event implied by the expression of tranquility on her face. By making water a focal point of the scene, it becomes fundamental to the subject.

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