In this stunning portfolio of photos by Slastyonoff we are given a glimpse of what it might be like to awaken one morning with the subject at hand, the beautiful Aneli. Arising, as we might, with the sun, our eyes would come upon her as she rose into the early light, and Slastyonoff has taken special care to capture this precious, fleeting moment. The suggestiveness of the theme, pointing as it does to the night’s prior sensuality, is palpable in the disheveled sheets and dewy smile of the model.
The “matinal” (morning) theme is one that has a long history in erotic art. The work of Matisse was particularly poignant in this regard. Showing young women reclining on beds, in the initial throes of new-day consciousness, Matisse emitted a sense of awakening, of arrival, and of innocence. Matisse is especially pertinent here given the zaftig and full nature of the figure of Aneli, a female form much favored by the old French master, and, apparently, by the current Russian master, Slastyonoff.
The way in which Slastyonoff utilizes “the gaze” in this series is particularly compelling. In a sense, the camera literally serves as the eye of what would be another inhabitant of the bed in which Aneli finds herself on this beautiful morning. As she rolls around, the eye follows her, arriving at her sensual form from different angles…lingering down by her ankles in order to get a good look up the supple length of her legs, rolling around to her side in order to see the contour of her shoulders and breasts, and often backing up or moving in close in order to better know as both familiar and strange this tempting and novel bedfellow. Throughout it all, Aneli is happy to partake in this show and tell and to give the camera its “mornings worth.”
As always, Slastyonoff is most successful in not only taking photos of a stunningly evocative young woman, but also in conjuring through his scenario, and through the model’s attitude and look, a specific time and place, which, in its turn, conjures up particular feelings, memories, and fantasies in the viewer. In this instance, it works quite well in helping the viewer feel “in the room” with Aneli, experiencing, as one most likely desires, what it must be like to meet the day with her after an exquisitely intimate evening. Slastyonoff not only offers us photographs, but he offers us this experience, and through it, we live a bit of our own fantasies.