The Nail, 2017
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One of the reasons Di Massimo resonates so deeply with the genre of portraiture is because it directly engages with human experience and its carnal proclivities. By pushing the boundaries between the sexual and the grotesque, the artist entraps the viewer on the edge of a precipice, the resulting image a picture of the decisive moment that comes before a climax. In ‘The nail’, the woman’s countenance is marked with the anticipation of the pleasure she is about to receive; her entire body is tensed with the prospect of sexual satisfaction.
In other forms of painting, the figure is often a single element within a composition, contributing to the whole but by no means its primary focus. Di Massimo, by comparison, seeks to emphasise the erotic potentialities of figurative painting by positioning the body as if it were on display, the background merely a stage upon which to set the scene. Further, it is the woman in this painting who commands our attention. The man, clothed in black and facing away from the viewer is wholly focused on her, like a stagehand might gaze at a prima donna from the wings. He is instrumental in her performance, yet it is she who brings down the house.