long live olive

i am giriish

painter, writer,
designer, martial artist,

and these are my jottings...

Erotic Art, NY Style

What’s beautiful beyond the banal in sex?

New York, the epicentre of art. For me, that thought is more exciting than thinking of New York as fashion capital. Thus, when the opportunity to be there for the book launch of Jing Ramos’s Beach Houses: Cebu Architecture by the Sea arose, I did not hesitate to grab it. And taking the opportunity proved to be my wisest artistic decision yet, as the wealth of works of art in its museums was totally inspiring and a session of Erotic Life Drawing Workshop at its Leslie-Lohman Gallery was a rarefied experience of establishing one’s aesthetic aspiration.

At the MET, MOMA and The Guggenheim Museum, I reconnected with my aesthetic aspirations. Although these museums' collections of objets d'art were interesting, offering the viewer a deeper understanding of the museum’s origins and insight into the vision of the museums' founders through works by Wasilly Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay, Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and so forth, the erotic drawings session at a Soho basement gallery were what sparked off this artist’s creative reconnection.

George Gozum, a college colleague, now a successful New York graphic artist, urged me to attend and made the reservation for a class at Leslie-Lohman Erotic Life Drawing Workshop where he regularly participated. Initially started under Harvey Redding’s direction in December 26, 2000, classes have been held twice weekly ever since with Rob Hugh Rosen sharing in the direction.

This session started with a handsome, well-built, six-foot, Chinese-American model in a black mesh thong coming up the low platform to do the first fifteen-minute pose. “This is conservative and gauche, even our models in basic college figure drawing classes were completely naked,” was the underlying but recurring thought that kept popping up in my head.

There was the regular five-minute interval to rest, enjoy some snacks and drinks, comment on each other’s posted works and then the session resumed with the subject divesting completely. Directed by Rob Rosen, the model played with desire, generating erotic space within him and radiating with the dynamics of looking and not looking at the artists. Totally aware of being looked at, he proceeded and maintained generous penile erections for the next three poses.

Art is prolific but the concept of sexual imagery in the traditional visual arts has remained marginalized as pornography. In less sophisticated venues, such as Cebu, I have experienced puritanical censorship when my paintings of black and white minimalist brushwork of male and female nudes were unceremoniously removed from the wall a day after they were hung. Not surprisingly, in view of this taboo on eroticism, life-drawing classes generally remain rigorously de-sexualised, purely academic and mundanely unchallenging.

Far from being mundane however, New York is at the frontier of liberalism, particularly in homoerotic art. There, art lives and evolves. There in the room full of drawing male artists, the subject proceeded to stroke his genital for the last five minutes of his last fifteen-minute pose, charging the air with dynamism and finally breaking the almost-meditative silence with an ecstatic moan.

Ecstatically, on a parallel vein, I arrived at my aesthetic aspiration. Finding beauty and inspiration in that fleeting moment, rendering the most confident line drawings of the male nude in twenty years. Those sketches bore the seed of aspiration; they defined what’s beautiful beyond the banality of sex. They marked the essence of my autumn in New York as an artist.

There was a book launch scheduled the day after I left the city that never sleeps. “Dirty Little Drawings,” was envisioned by Harvey Redding and Robert Richards as a way of making erotic artwork produced by over sixty participating artists readily available and affordable. The images were chosen from the thousand that the gallery exhibits yearly for its increasing number of collectors. Although unable to stay for the launch, I had the chance to interact with other artists and have them sign their artworks in my copy of the book right after the workshop session.

As for this artist’s sketchbook of incipient erotic life drawings, they remain in a Cebuano friend’s Soho apartment. There, they shall always be best appreciated.


Anonymous said...

hi oj
my comments are best made in private, hahaha! im in new york now, so far no erections in sight...but this is really a good one! keep writing....


oj hofer said...

thanks, have fun there. i know you'll be inspired there :)

thestylemonger said...

there is a thin line between art and what is considered erotic or pornography...art is defined by the way it makes you feel.. and the feeling doesn't automatically equates porn art. misperceptions must the struggled and no matter how we low the bar about eroticism in art...sensibility and responsibility in expression must be our guide.....and yes we can!!!