Photographer and Rye grad Kendall Townend stands next to a piece from his series, "Aphrodite." Dasha Zolota/The Eyeopener. Aug 22, 2012.

Studying The Naked Female

In Arts & Life /

By Susana Gómez Báez

Arts & Life Editor

The small gallery at the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts is lined with black-and-white photographs of a woman’s bare torso in different positions. Each reveals a flat, defined stomach and taut breasts, but the figures are faceless and armless.

Next to one of the pictures stands Kendall Townend, the photographer responsible for the pieces on display.

The series, called “Aphrodite,” is Townend’s most recent work, a study inspired by antique sculptures of the nude female body.

Townend, 49, graduated from Ryerson’s photography program in 1985.

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“Photography is the language compatible with the images inside me that have to come out,” he said.

“Aphrodite” was inspired by Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Gates of Hell” and Townend said that it was this, and his very close relationship with antiquity, that led him to name the body of work after the Greek goddess of beauty.

He believes that the exhibit is meant to survey “the West view of how we explore the female form.” But when speaking of the subject matter for the project – a naked woman – he confessed:  “I’m a healthy heterosexual male and I like looking at women.”

Some pieces are abstract shots and others incorporate the use of wet silk over the model, an idea Townend was encouraged to explore after seeing Vogue photographer Erwin Blumenfeld’s work. He said he wanted the nude to appear to be emerging out of stone, reminiscent of the Hellenistic statues that were his muse.

After almost two years on the project and about seven sessions with the model, Townend said that his goal is not success.

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“I don’t have anything specific I want people to walk away with,” Townend said. “I want [people] to walk away with something that’s theirs… something they brought with them.”

The exhibit is open at the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts at 984 Queen Street West from August 15 until August 26.

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