You may have noticed, if you’ve wandered around this site before landing here, that I am given to an exaggeration of muscularity in my depiction of the male figure. It happens to coincide, and is surely informed by, current widely held ideals in Western society. I’m not bringing this up because it’s problematic, necessarily, or something I want to change. I bring it up because it’s worth examining a little. To hopefully elevate the proclivity from unconscious bias to conscious choice.
This prompt to examine attractions and their effects in my art-making comes from an interesting question from our friends at the art collective Doable Guys. “What makes a guy doable to you?” This prompt, or some variation on it informs their work as a collective: shows, publications, figure drawing events, and more. They’ve published a painting of mine in an anthology and I’ve had works in two of their shows.
I like to take moments like these as an encouragement and reminder to stop and examine aspects of my experiences. Time spent reflecting, especially on something as powerful as attraction, is always beneficial. There is no right or wrong here, just a constant unfolding.
Overall, it’s the sheer intensity that appeals to me the most. Watching that intensity creates a resonance of the physical efforts required to create such a physique. I feel this is a huge part of the depiction and, I hope, of the response in the viewer. I’m also deeply intrigued by the purposeful creation and investment involved in this form of body modification, a practice I engage in myself via calisthenics, martial arts, and yoga. So, of course, it finds its way into my art—and vice versa.
And now, for the moral of the story. Problems arise when an individual allows their attractions to solidify into judgement: notions of right and wrong, good and bad, natural and unnatural. Often, at this point, the solidified judgements are wielded like weapons. And when one artist uses this icy dagger of deeply personal judgement on another artist, a grievous wrong has happened. A great harm has been done.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend what little time I have on this earth celebrating instead of judging.
Cover image from an untitled torso study, 16 in. x 12 in., oil on paper, 2021.