Nudes and Friends

Victoria Selbach’s paintings are personal.

Gazing into eyes inset in the oversize faces of her friends in Ms. Selbach’s paintings feels like a chance encounter from a forgotten past that bursts with the joy of suddenly remembering. imageDespite not knowing the person depicted in the painting, there’s something warm and candid that welcomes connection in each of them.

The paintings of nudes touch another part of personal. Most mask the identity of the person, yet, each reveals intimate moments of comfortable relaxation or times where emotions are close to the surface. Shadows and contrasting light bathes the subject in subtle drama that hints at a life in the throes of unfolding.

Channeling what lies beneath the exterior is important to Ms. Selbach. In both distinct series, she consciously combined strong compositions with layers of subtle colors designed to spring the paintings towards life. She decided to work in series to develop artistic ideas while honing her fine art skills.

Painting and art is not new to Ms. Selbach, but devoting all her efforts towards fine art is. imageAround two years ago, the Port Washington resident decided to retire from decades in corporate fashion design to become a full time artist. She pursued her art throughout her commercial career, but staying completely immersed proved difficult to sustain.

Making the leap to full-time art allows her the freedom to follow artistic ideas, without judgment, to conclusions on canvas. Ms. Selbach decided to begin her new artistic chapter by painting portraits of her friends.

The established bond between painter and subject was a leaping point for the composition. To transform from straight portraiture into something more, Ms. Selbach focused on faces and made them larger than life. She chose unusual angles, and cropped to add intrigue and contrast between sharp lines and soft faces.

“I like to feel the presence of the person and capture the personal light that comes from everyone,” she said.

Ms. Selbach brought some of these choices with her to her Nudes series. The Nudes move from the specific into the shared experience of being human. Most do not include faces or the face is obscured.

imageThe paintings capture the beauty of the body cloaked in shadow and layers of light. Angles created by the body’s position, or by slashing shadows, feature prominently. The patterns and visuals created are important compositional elements. So is the implied narrative, the situation and the imagined life of the subject. Much of this is accomplished through layers of paint and dramatic lights and darks.

“Imagining the low lighting areas takes the viewer in,” she said. “Light leads the viewer through the layers of the paint. The skin looks to be single color but it is not. The layers of paint have colors the eye sees but doesn’t always register. This allows the flesh tones to seem real and imply the life that’s beyond the surface.”

Both series have been well received by viewers and gallery directors, she said. For now, the Nudes are holding her artistic attention. Exploring colors, patterns and the narratives the body can imply holds intrigue for Ms. Selbach. Ultimately, she’ll follow her heart and see where the artistic muse will take her.

imageVictoria Selbach’s paintings are the subject of a solo show from October 6 to 30 at the BHN (Bohemian National Hall), the home of the Czech Center and the Consulate General of the Czech Republic. It’s located at 321 East 73rd Street, New York. Ms. Selbach’s work has been exhibited at the Richard J. Demato Gallery in Sag Harbor, the Muroff Kotler Visual Arts Gallery at SUNY Ulster, Martha de Groot in Port Washington and other venues. Her art can be viewed at

pat rogers

Pat Rogers is a freelance writer specializing in arts and culture on Long Island. When not going to art openings or interviewing actors or musicians, she’s looking for the next interesting story.