WHAT LIES BE­NEATH

Niall MacMona­gle

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Art & Music - Un­ti­tled by An­drej Get­man Oil on can­vas. Courtesy of the artist/get­man­gallery.com

ST Se­bas­tian was shot full of ar­rows and later cud­gelled to death — but San­dro Bot­ti­celli’s 1474 de­pic­tion of the Chris­tian mar­tyr got artist An­drej Get­man think­ing.

“Bot­ti­celli’s Se­bas­tian looks so laid-back with a no-bother, nopained ex­pres­sion. It’s a selfie.”

Get­man fast-for­warded, ex­plored how the male nude is rep­re­sented to­day in ad­ver­tis­ing, art, in “mess­ing-around sex­ting” and cre­ated 43 paint­ings in six weeks, all called Un­ti­tled. He works to music, “danc­ing some­times”, and his can­vasses zing and flow.

Get­man, from Klaipeda, Lithua­nia, grew up “in a postSoviet era with a non-ac­cep­tance ide­ol­ogy of per­sonal iden­tity and sex­u­al­ity”. His fam­ily moved to Castle­blayney when he was 18 — but he stayed on in Lithua­nia on his own, to fin­ish school.

Vis­it­ing Mon­aghan only once dur­ing that year, when he came here for good, he felt he “was com­ing home”.

That was 2005. First, fac­tory work, then cof­fee shops, then a busi­ness IT and fi­nance course, “to which my body said ‘No!’ It made me sick”.

Even­tu­ally, Get­man found free­dom at NCAD. “They don’t try to shape you, they wel­come what­ever you can bring to the table. And ev­ery­thing changed when I dis­cov­ered Brian Maguire.”

This paint­ing ex­plores nar­cis­sism and cy ber ex­hi­bi­tion­ism. Naked male self­ies, “on­line time cap­sules” are “dis­man­tled into frag­mented pieces” and trans­formed into “sim­ple or­ganic forms and lines”.

He con­nects with self­ies, knows “ev­ery move­ment and set-up in mak­ing them. A naked selfie is made in a safe en­vi­ron­ment, a co­coon. It pre­serves your young, beau­ti­ful self, just like Michelan­gelo’s David does. Thick­ness of paint matters, as does “the neg­a­tive space, say be­tween arm and body”.

In this work “there is an out­lined fig­ure on the left, in that bold red line, there’s a shadow fig­ure, top right” but noth­ing ex­plicit. And that twist­ing yel­low shape? For Get­man, “the in­ter­net is a mys­te­ri­ous, di­ges­tive sys­tem, a big, on­line or­gan that works non­stop. What is wi-fi? Re­mem­ber Homer Simp­son try­ing to catch an email in his hands to pre­vent it be­ing sent?”

Next? A master’s de­gree. Do Berlin, Am­s­ter­dam, NYC beckon?

“Let’s break that idea of hav­ing to be­come fa­mous elsewhere first. Why not try for it here in Dublin?” Go Get­man! This man Get­man gets it.

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