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Artist's shock at how we still think of sex

A young Polish artist has spoken out at what she calls 'Ireland's repressed attitude towards sex' after the adverse attention her new exhibition on the naked female form has attracted.

Kamile Matulaityte, who has just completed a BA degree in photography at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, has taken a series of nude self-portraits for her exhibition which is on show this week at the KTContemporary art gallery in Donnybrook, Dublin.

But Kamile was surprised to find a negative response to the work -- which she says is a reflection of Ireland's sexually repressed nature.

"I find it quite hard to work in a catholic country like Ireland. It requires courage. I was doing landscapes and as soon as I turned to erotic themes, I found it very difficult because of the response I received.

"The gaze people see the work with tends to be exploitative and very sexual rather than seeing the work as a piece of art. I think it has something to do with Catholic guilt.

"People shouldn't be shocked or surprised or even excited about this type of work anymore. I definitely think this country is still very much sexually repressed."

Apart from 'sleazy' text messages from men who have viewed the art, Kamile says she also believes one of her photos was targeted by thieves due to its sexual nature.

"A piece was stolen from the wall in my college and I think it was taken because it was an erotic photograph. I don't know if it was burned or if it's simply hanging on someone's wall somewhere."

She added: "I never put my face in my photographs because it is not about me, it is about women's bodies in general. I want to educate people to appreciate beauty and the feminine form more. One cannot consume a photograph because it doesn't satisfy any physical needs.

"The viewer is caught up in his own circle of discontent because he fails to enjoy a subject without willing to possess it."

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The work is on display at Katie Tsouros' gallery, who has most recently featured the work artist Leah Hewson, who was joined at the opening by family including Bono and Ali Hewson.

Ms Tsouros said she is thrilled that her gallery has finally given the artist a space.

"So far at the gallery we have gotten a really positive response to the work because the type of the people who come to the gallery are used to contemporary art and throughout art-history nudes are something that's seen as beautiful."

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