Stephen M. Silverman
April 10, 2002 12:00 PM

Madonna could be boiling over some oil — paintings, that is. Reuters reports that on April 13 the McLaurin Gallery in Ayr, Scotland, plans to unveil two portraits of the Material Mom, 43, by Scotland’s leading contemporary artist, Peter Howson, 44, who gained international attention in the ’80s as one of the “New Glasgow Boys.” In both renderings, she is nude. In one painting, she is seen squatting in a cemetery, her arms aimed toward the sky and her body a mass of writhing flesh, reports Reuters. In the other work, she is naked on a bed and surrounded by five symbolic images: Mary, the mother of Jesus; the biblical character Salome; the Jewish heroine, Esther; Eve, the first woman; and the Athenian courtesan Thais. “The reaction from her camp hasn’t been good,” the painter told the news service. “I think they’re frightened of what she’ll think.” Reportedly, Madonna and the painter have met, and she has even collected some of his work. However, says Reuters, Madonna has never sat for a portrait with the artist, and certainly never in the nude. He made up the images from his own fertile imagination. “Nobody knows the true Madonna, not even herself,” said Howson. “The thing that strikes you about her is her strength, but there is a great weakness underneath all of that.” He says that he sent his subject an invitation to his opening, but as her spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg, told New York’s Daily News, “Madonna is a believer in free expression, but I don’t think she’ll be attending his shows.”

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