Two minutes with Danny Katz: The naked truth about an unwanted gift

Q. As a birthday surprise, a friend’s husband painted a large and realistic nude portrait of her. She doesn’t want it in the lounge room to be seen by family and friends and it’s too big for the bedroom. Is the shed the only possible exhibition space?
H. W. , Coledale, NSW

A: Just painting a regular, non-naked gift portrait is fraught with peril. My daughter once painted a picture of me when she was in kindy and I was a tiny, blob-like creature with three hairy eyes. It was deeply hurtful. I wouldn’t even put it on the fridge door: I stuck it around the side, hidden beneath an oversized emergency-plumber fridge magnet.

So painting a nude gift portrait would be multifraught with multiperils. Especially if it was very big and very realistic and painted by your partner, so you were expected to hang it in your home where visitors would be forced to stare at your bits and pieces, making awkward comments like, Wow … such a dazzling interplay of light and shadow around your . . . uhhh . . . and I really like those subtle mid-tones just below your . . . uhhh …

Of course, your friend’s husband didn’t mean this to be an embarrassing gift. He’s clearly a hopeless romantic who’s besotted with the sensual magnificence of his wife’s naked form – and wants to share her naked sensual magnificence with friends, parents, siblings, kids, tradies, cleaners and old Mrs Gaffnee from down the street who likes to pop round with a plate of her delicious orange poppyseed muffins. If your friend is not comfortable with the painting, she should tell her husband that she’s flattered by his beautiful gift, but her naked body is her own business and the painting is going in the shed. Either that or he paints some clothes on her: a full-length wetsuit or a barrel with straps.

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