To tackle the theme of female nudity in one’s artworks is to navigate some tricky waters indeed. Where does one draw the line between decency and obscenity? When is the female subject objectified, and when is her humanity respected? Where does the integrity of nakedness begin, and where does it end? These are valid questions with no definite answers, but they must be asked because asking them leads us to some profound insights into the role that such risque artworks play in shaping our perception. In the already complex world of art, is there any message meaningful enough so as to merit the depiction of a woman's most intimate and private body parts?
According to Dby Saco, the image of a woman’s bare body is linked to the idea of beauty itself. But her idea of beauty isn’t one that adheres to any universal objective standard. Hers is a more inclusive type of beauty that celebrates women of all stripes by acknowledging their diversity. This take is both refreshing and reassuring in an age where the potent blend of advertising and social media have spawned entire industries built upon women’s bodily insecurities.
In stark contrast to today’s consumerist ethos, Saco’s first two sketches, Paubos man o Patas and Ikaw og Ako, bothseem to strip women down into their most natural and primal state. In these two drawings, we see sketches of different women all assuming suggestive poses. Of course, while this might strike some people as immodest or indecent, one is also stunned at the elegance and innocence with which the figures were duly drawn. On the other hand, her third sketch, Atoa Kini, isn’t so much a celebration of female beauty as it is a bold statement about the autonomy they hold over their bodies. The pictures speak for themselves. Saco’s women don’t inspire lust; they inspire admiration. They don’t see their bodies as inherently constricting; to them, they are the very sources of liberation.
From the femme fatale to the girl-next-door, there have been numerous female archetypes throughout history that never failed to dazzle, bewitch, and enchant even those who might at first seem indifferent and unmoved by their charms. Whether they like it or not, women will always be subject to the male gaze (it’s just part of human nature). But suffice it to say that in today’s age of empowerment, women seem to have taken matters into their own hands. Who’s to say what’s beautiful and what isn’t? And who’s to say what they can and cannot do with their bodies?