As a starting point to understanding my work, I often think of Manetís Olympia. While there were
hundreds of years of female nudes that preceded that painting, Manet broke with tradition by
painting her staring out at the viewer. Confident yet complicit, Olympia confronts the viewer with
her eyes. Unlike the passive and unaware female nudes that had preceded her, Olympia knows
that she is being looked at, judged, objectified. And yet she allows the viewers to do so, even
challenges them to hold their gaze. In nearly all of my works, this is what my subjects do.

The figures in my work know they are being objectified by the viewer. Iím interested in the
cultural meanings and values that are attributed to each body type. Each body is read like a
cultural artifact, its meaning derived from its shape, color, and size, seen through the lens of the
culture by which it is viewed. The figures are fit into the roles that society has ascribed to people
with those body types. They are categorized and stereotyped by their race, their gender, their
class, their age, the shape of their bodiesÖ Yet they stare back at the viewer, knowing that they
are being looked at and objectified, and like Olympia, they refuse to be victims in the exchange. It
is this tension that much of my work relies on.

My works seeks out that grey area between two categories; between representation and
exploitation; between equality and inequality; between sameness and difference; between truth
and assumption. I make use of art historical references, media images, and visual puns,
transposing one on top of the next, forcing the viewer to unravel their own assumptions and
prejudices about the figures in my work.

All images and content contained in this site © Joe Levickas, 2001-2008. Do not reproduce without consent of the artist.