Mel Ramos' current batch of painted cuties carries the curious aura of an art that is slowly passing into history. Since the '60s the entertaining Bay Area performer has limned lush nudes, first satirizing their exploitation as sellers of commodities in the Pop era, then as the emblematic embodiment of powerful animals and more recently as vehicles of commentary on the uses of the nude in art history--somehow introducing into this a plaintiff Rodney Dangerfield subtext that Ramos himself hasn't gotten enough respect for his efforts.
The present baker's dozen of oils and watercolors extends the idea into the timeless rumination on the artist and his model in the studio. One work interposes a large Matisse-style nude into the corner of a room where a mirror stands reflecting a "real" girl. (It is no mean feat that Ramos manages to convince us that his painted girls are more real than Matisse's painted models.)
A feeling wafts across the mind that imagines Ramos saying, "Look, I love to paint the female nude. All I have ever cared about was trying to get down the looks of those gorgeous young goddesses who miraculously brighten the drab landscape of reality. Everything I've done has just been an excuse to go on looking at them."