Body-painting is an old artistic form of expression, which has been applied since prehistoric man. Throughout history, these artistic decorations of the skin have been used by various cultures around the world, especially at ritual ceremonies. Among others, the Indians in America, the Maori in New-Zeeland, and Africans in Ethiopia and Kenya applied colour to skin. Since the 1970s, this artistic expression has become more common in the Western world as well.
The first one to introduce body-painting in the West was the artist and model Vera von Lehndorff, better known as Veruschka. Many artists have followed her extraordinary example since. Amit Bar is one of them.
As opposed to conventional art in this field, Amit Bar rarely uses body-paint to imitate clothing or as an extended background. By applying the colour and form he has envisioned to the body, the paint and the human form interact to create an extra dimension. The painting itself is an artistic craft which needs to succeed on a first try. Because the lines are difficult to erase or replace, there is almost no room for experiments or mistakes.
Photography completes the artistic expression by catching the body-painting at the exact moment when motion, colour, and shape combine to create art. After all, the body-paint’s photographs are the only remaining witnesses to the art that was created. In Coloured Skins, photobook by Amit Bar, you will find two pictured samples of the process in which the human form is painted.
The artist’s sources of inspiration are diverse. Sometimes they are very recognizable, inspired by the nature that surrounds us, though not copying it. On the other hand, studio-works can feature existing elements, like a checkerboard, notes from sheet music or plain digits. As a consequence of the cold weather in The Netherlands, most of the artworks were created in the studio. However, some body-paintings were made in Israel and France, where the climate allows more artistic freedom.
The models deserve a great share of credit in the success of Amit’s art. While being painted, they are required to patiently stand as still as statues, sometimes for hours on end. After the painting is completed, the models have to focus all their energy, elegance and charm on posing. In order to add dynamic to his art, Amit sometimes even asks his models to dance while they are posing.
The dance became an essential part of his body-paintings since two years ago. At that time he began to film his work as well, as part of his project Women and Animals.
You can find a large selection of more than 180 photos of body-paintings on the website Amit Bar Fine Art Photography
All Images Are © Amit Bar
Amit Bar Artist Bio
Amit Bar was born in Kibbutz Kfar Hamaccabi, Israel, in 1950. He lived there until 1988 and spent many years studying drawing and painting. He achieved his Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Haifa in Creative Art and Comparative Literature. During his studies he decided to focus on his most passionate interest: photography. His graduation project centred on child photography.
Since 1988 he has lived in Doetinchem, The Netherlands, where he works as a freelance-photographer and (body)painter. In his commercial work he takes photographs for a stock agency and fulfils commissioned assignments.
Wishing to combine his photography with drawing and painting, he began to merge them in 1992, making photo-collages. The photographs were made first, after which they were cut and glued together. The artwork would be completed by meticulously drawing or painting around the composed collage, thus adding to the composition’s perspective.
In 1995, Amit began to combine drawings, paintings, film and photography by making body-paintings.
Website: Amit Bar Fine Art Photography
Photobook: Coloured Skins by Amit Bar