Enter the matrix

By GREG COOK  |  January 13, 2009

At AS220 (115 Empire Street, Providence, through January 24), Paul Roustan of East Providence presents photos of naked models (almost all women) that he's painted with stripes and patterns and various virtuoso effects. A woman's pregnant belly is painted to resemble the earth, eclipsing a spotlight in the background that doubles as the sun. A real tarantula crawls up the breast of a woman painted with a white spider web that glows against her black-painted skin. Roustan's body paintings have flashy airbrush or spray-can style and exude a sexy fetishistic vibe.

I'm fascinated by the shot of a model painted with blue-on-blue floral pattern that matches the wallpaper behind her, and shots of models posed in crumbling buildings (or sets) and painted to resemble cracked walls or shattered glass. One of these women appears to have a gaping hole right between her breasts. I'm by turns attracted and repulsed by the trompe l'oeil illusions, the undercurrent of violence percolating through the images, and the way the naked ladies become mysteriously one with their surroundings, like chameleons or liquid mercury Terminators.

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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