One need not survey a large selection of Stephanie Noblet’s art in order to see that she lives up to her name, “Noblet” or “Noble.” While it may be argued that her work pushes the line between art and what some may see as sexually evocative, still, it is clear that she keeps that line tactfully intact. In her art, the viewer gets all the suggestiveness without the flamboyance; all of the seduction without the sexuality; all of the sensuality without the lasciviousness; all the salaciousness without the smut; all the prurience without the impurity. Through the watercolour art of Stephanie Noblet, it is made clear that she has a sound understanding of the phrase “noblesse oblige” and employs it to no one’s detriment or expense.
I need to be sure that my point is abundantly clear before I proceed: There are times in the arts when sexuality simply must be a point of topic regardless of the fact that some readers, listeners or viewers may threaten said artist with unpleasant consequences. I, myself, wrote and published a poem several years ago that was called, “The Rape of Lucretia,” in reference to both Shakespeare and Greco/Roman mythology. It is never made clear in my poem if the nameless young woman is taken as a result of coercion or cajoling; what is clear is that she had been an unwilling participant. I wrote the poem in order to express my disapproval of the young man’s actions, my compassion for this young woman and my sense of sorrow for her plight, but I would have been unable to do so if I had not been allowed to discuss—however subtly—the idea of sexuality. Similarly, sensuality—if not actual sexuality—is clearly a part of Noblet’s art, but it has not ventured anywhere near the realm of pornography.
That being said, there is still much to sensuality to explore through her art. The 21 st century is distinctly vital to these watercolour portraits. Viewers are given the taste of a powerful modern jazz era with an emphasis on youth and a touch of innocence. And yet, there is something also that seems “old fashioned” in her art—not archaic, but a sense of the proverbial “roaring twenties” from the early part of the last century with all of that era’s sensuality. Consider these paintings’ hair styles and the facial colouring, both of which are reminiscent of that bygone era, which leads me to wonder, given the 21 st -century slant, if Noblet isn’t, in fact, looking a half decade ahead, perhaps anticipating the return of the twenties with the “party-for- party’s sake” appeal. Consider her paintings called “Angel,” “Instant Crush” and “Jazz.” [Images / slideshow available at the end of the article.] These three possess the strongest feel of the 1920’s, and one is even named to honour the popular musical style of that time. All three of these present for the viewer beautiful young women with innocence of expression and facial features, emphasized by the titles of the paintings in “Angel” and “Instant Crush,” “crush” having the connotations of youthfully innocent love. And yet, in all three there is a sense of sexual awakening and curiosity flashing from their eyes, emphasized most in “Jazz” for the lips that are heavily accentuated by being pursed and brightly coloured.
Even the painting called “Emergence” carries on the sexual nature of Noblet’s art, despite the undeniably more modern hairstyle and appearance of the young girl who is being “presented.” Viewers are greeted by a delightfully lovely young woman whose visage is only barely discernable on the canvas. She is of an indistinct age, although clearly “of age,” an idea that is underscored by the title, “Emergence,” a charming pun: The image of the young woman appears to be in the earliest point of execution; she is emerging on the canvas. And yet, she also appears to be in the throes of being presented in a coming-of- age fashion. A sexually mature yet innocently young lady is emerging.
There is also the brilliant and marvellously constructed “Soulmate” that adds to the sexually ambiguous nature of Noblet’s work. Here we have two people who are clearly not positioned belly to belly, but who are, instead, “of one mind.” Their souls, symbolized by their respective cranial anatomy, are joined; they are one. Yet, despite the fact that the two in the painting are not facing each other, the expressions on their faces tell a different stroy. In one very real sense the two might be geographically apart, but joined by thoughts and emotions, again, symbolized by the joining of their respective heads. Their facial expressions are not a sharing of passing thoughts or of happy memories, but are purely sexual in nature. Whether apart or not, these two are joined physically in more than one way.
So, yes, there is clearly a degree of sexuality to these works of art; there is seduction; there is lust; there is sexual awakening, and right along with that wanton sexuality is purity and innocence, but absolutely no prudishness or frigidity. It is an elegant openness to a personal part of being human and being alive, and it is presented in such a way as to emphasize the undeniably purity of that sexuality. We are talking about a very fine line in art between explicit sexuality and an exploration of sexual awareness; it is a line so fine as to be razor sharp. Stephanie Noblet walks us across that tight rope with all the dignity and grace that only a person of such nobility is capable of.
Visit Stephanie Noblet’s profile.
Attend her upcoming Art Exhibition in Beckenham, Kent July 3rd, 2016.
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About the Writer
A. J. Mittendorf is a published author with two books to his credit, the second of which is to be released in July, 2016. It is called, “Carnival of the Animals.” It is a collection of fables in verse that have each been inspired by the music of composer Camille Saint-Saens- -music of the same name as A. J.’s book.