One column in Zoë Charlton’s lively studio is covered with book and magazine images of ancient Greek kouros figures and modern body-builders. On her desk are a collection of African masks. These images—from both high and low culture—inspire her, as does drawing the figure from life. Charlton identifies herself as a “draw-er”—one who makes drawings—often of nude males. They confront the viewer with their directness, scale, and unabashed nakedness.
In a series called Festoon, Charlton collages colorful stickers to create dense fields of saturated beauty—spaces that are either inhabited or worn by her hand-drawn figures. The men depicted here may wear on their backs a massive accumulation of trees or ships or animals, suggesting both the weight of the world and the wellspring of human desire and longing.