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Nicole Sleeth

Current series:

My work focuses on the portrayal of larger than life size nude women who turn their gaze back on the viewer. I seek to confront and engage the viewer; to have the act of viewing a painting become an active experience. This is particularly important when depicting the female nude. The female nude is often depicted from the neck down, objectifying her, or with eyes averted, allowing the viewer to gaze without accountability. I paint women who stare back, challenging the ownership felt over women’s bodies and what is acceptable or appropriate. These women exist without catering to the approval of the viewer and the male gaze. I seek to neither hide nor embellish; my goal is to depict women honestly, powerfully, and with respect, thus blurring the line between viewing a painting and engaging with another person.

Artistic statement:

My paintings are about relationships and the delicate connection between humans, both as individuals and on a larger societal level. These include the relationship between myself and the women I paint (the painter and the painted), the communication that occurs between the women and the viewer, and then the indirect relationship between myself and the viewer by way of the painting. All of our relationships are influenced by the lenses through which we view the world around us, and through which the world views us: simultaneously as subject and object.

The foundation of these relationships is the paint itself. Paint has the ability to become something else, to be transformative and transformed, yet at the same time it is just paint, a relatively simple physical substance, being pushed around on a canvas. The lure of these two truths existing at once is what captivates me – the contrast and complement of intangible, changeable relationships and worlds, and the grounding reality of the physical materials as well as the act of painting, itself.


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