(photos and words all rights reserved by Frau Kolb, 2012)
What is Cooking: Hot Art in Los Angeles 2012,
La Cienega Blvd, art galleries
The desire to own a work of art may fuel the hungry look of gaping gallery goers or, more likely, the pretentious wish to be perceived among arbiters of good taste and the sophisticated rich, that can afford to adorn their world with coveted visual art trophies, may be behind the drive moving the hordes that stroll with famished faces, apparently seeking sustenance among the works of art on display for select consumption and public discussion. Last night, on La Ciengea Blvd., an exhibition of exhibitionist’s (homo)sexual Odyssey, Walt Cessna, “I Fukt LA,” was explicit to the point of perhaps warranting the question, “What is this other than pornographic visual assault? Gratuitous obscenity?” The image of the young man contorted, pretzel shape, as to display his genitals, along with a wide Cheshire cat smile under a prodigious pair of black spectacles, defiant in its flagrant disregard of conventional appetites, is a perfect example of a homoerotic stance which is apparently at odds with the mainstream power structure, yet perfectly palatable to the requirements of the relentless male gaze. The photographic work by Cessna at, leaves nothing to the imagination.
The perspective of desire, the will to OWN, to control is all persuasive and in a capitalist society, the reason behind most if not all “legitimate,” transactions and interactions. The exchange of one currency for another written in paint or printed photographic records of an adventurist sexual explorer’s exploits, allows for the hunger for beautiful boy flesh to be fanned via visual art, stimulus that is not without a dash of political spice, as we embrace gay marriage and the rights of homosexuals are hotly debated and increasingly upheld by law and public opinion.
The notion of display is inherent in art and in sexual selection. Just as, an art work “ON SHOW,” is (almost) always for sale. The sale, may be private, just as the consummation of desire is (usually) private. Yet the prelude to this “climax,” is conducted in the public forum, much like the promenade or boardwalk where prostitutes peddle their wares. Yet, the artists responsible for the works in question are, surely, not prostitutes despite the highly erotic nature of the artwork on display. The defiance of “Daddy,” is part of the visceral bite and significance animating various homo-confrontational art efforts. These works are in opposition to those that seek to sublimate or subdue the homosexual urge and drive to expression in sexual action and possible lifestyle choices.
Yet this positive affirmation of sexually is restricted to a vision, which caters to the same old patriarchal eye. There are no portraits of older men displaying their withered wares. The man depicted from behind perched on a table laden with ceramic ware, pottery, crafted molded like his body to appeal, to be used. In contrast to the brazen, in-your-face proposition of “Heywood Wakerfield Drop Leaf Extension Table with Dinnerware,” by the Brett Reichman painting, exhibited at Angles Gallery, and pictured here being examined by a very interested woman, the sculpted body, clad in fishnet, of a black man, is compelling for its frank equation between, “the catch-of-the-day,” mentality of a hungry sailor on the prowl for authentic experience of The Ultimate Sexual Odyssey, this image is erotic, rather than pornographic, or sexually explicit, and that restraint is part of its considerable allure and demonstrates that Cessna is capable of photographic or narrative restraint in his recordings.
Yet, restraint is not what distinguishes Marcelino Goncalves painting, “Feeling Feline,” at Angels Gallery, but rather a luscious sensibility and classical focus on form and a palatable, domestic, safe representation of a young male sex object, a subtly sumptuous work of art, sensitively painted painting of a young man, with generous mustache, spread out on a fresh clean bed with striped pink sheets. “Feeling Feline,” is a seductive painting. One could live with it, regardless of sexual orientation or fleshy desires. An abstract painter’s interest in pattern and color define the painting’s delicious gold-green (chartreuse?) background and sweet zig-zags of the floor boards. The work is a gentle tour of classical painterly interests; the strong and bright daylight, streaming in, the idealize flesh: plump and warm, inviting to the eye, pink and frankly pretty. The object of desire a dark haired young man, with tanned smooth skin, thick mustache, ample chest hair, the curl of his armpit hair, all rendered with meticulous and yet light hand. The kitty at the center, so precisely rendered and purr-fectly pretty, looking out at the viewer, inviting a friendly hand, a caress… Ah!
For some, desire manifests as lust for variations on the Apollonian ideal, for others the WANT is for young lovers with silky hair and marble skin, others prefer paintings as their prizes, with which they trumpet their own prowess, as connoisseurs of the comely, the courageous, and the coveted. The shape and color, the weight and heft, of WANT may vary, but desire is a universal experience to which we can all relate. The art collector craves that final piece which will complete his or her (unending) collection. The artist craves attention and recognition for skills honed, insights captured. The public devours a savory visual feast presented by savvy art galleries, quick to capitalize on the market for masturbatory masterpieces, staunch purveyors of “good taste,” although the recipe for provocative, culturally relevant art, changes from season to season.