venus-as-a-boy Ryan Gosling Picture

“Hey Girl, let’s explore beauty and gender roles through allegory and classical mythology while paying homage renaissance art.”

While painting this, I felt more like a gay man than a (mostly) straight woman, which is odd because I've never felt like any sort of man before. Is this telling of the fact that an objectifying gaze is usually male? that in being the agent of objectification, I felt a sense of power that is not usually enjoyed by women? Not entirely— I've painted female nudes without ever inspiring second thoughts regarding my own sexuality. In fact, the objectification of women's bodies is so ubiquitous and expected that it hardly inspires a second thought at all.

Venus, the pagan goddess of love and beauty, inspires both arousal and spiritual contemplations of love. Ryan Gosling was chosen to play this role both for his physical beauty, and for charming romantic roles that he has played as both actor and internet meme.

In Botticelli's composition, one of the Graces approaches Venus, pure and splendid in her divine nudity, to cover her up with a garb of earthly modesty. Boy-Venus Ryan is to be made similarly worldly with an Armani jacket, a symbol of conspicuous consumerism. While I'm generally critical of materialism, I have to admit that I find a man in a well-cut suit can be more arousing than a man wearing nothing at all. I don't know what could be a more obvious sign of heteronormative social conditioning, but really I can't help it.

Instead of the Divine Winds blowing Venus to shore, and thus delivering love and beauty to mankind, I've positioned Rachel MacAdams in a exalting pose. As his love-interest in his breakthrough romantic role, Rachel played a part in delivering Ryan to his adoring fans. (Also, Ryan once described Rachel as the love of his life, which secured her a spot in a composition that celebrates love and beauty.)
Continue Reading: The Graces