Friday, July 3, 2009

Good Sadism and Bad

For most of my professional life, I've had people confront me with the homoerotic S&M qualities of some of my works. The most famous among them was the artist Eric Fischl almost 20 years ago. In recent years, I've decided not to go half way in meeting this objection, but on the contrary, to give my critics something to really cry about.

I've always noticed that Sebastiano del Piombo could paint something that is filled with kinky violence, like Saint Agatha getting her tits ripped off with iron pincers, and no one seems to object. Let's not beat around the bush (so to speak), this painting, with its sensuously painted flesh, its lovely female body writhing in torment and captivity, and the encounter of soft tits with hard iron, inspired almost 5 centuries of illicit boners under cassocks.

Even in my most underground erotic work, I've never made anything this sadistic. For all the bondage and knocking around that go on in my work from time to time, no one ever gets raped, no one gets mutilated, and no one ever gets killed. All are happening in this picture, and it hung on the wall of a church and was applauded by church authorities.

I have just painted a version of Theseus and Procrustes where I show Theseus chained up and naked, spread eagle in a parody of Vitruvian Man, about to be surgically "adjusted" by mad scientist and philosopher Procrustes. I've made Theseus a delectable morsel for this monster. While Procrustes looks away, Theseus has already broken one of his chains. It is unclear how the fight will come out (Herr Doctor Procrustes could still call in the SS guards to beat Theseus up and chain him back into place for the operation to continue), but Theseus is not accepting his situation with Agatha's pious resignation. In case you're wondering, Theseus kills Procrustes in all the versions of the myth. Procrustes was a devouring monster just as much as the Minotaur was. I waste no sympathy on him in my painting. I'm only making Theseus work a little harder for those triumphs than the Neo-Classicals did.

When I photograph it, post it, and exhibit it, I expect a full range of innuendoes that I'm certain those same folks would never make about Sebastiano's painting. If my painting is homoerotic, then be glad to see it, enjoy the B & D, and enjoy that gun in your pants. I did. Unlike Sebastiano's painting, you don't have to feel bad about enjoying the kinks in mine. No furtive cassock wanking here.

I suppose what makes the difference is that one is in an institutional religious context, and its lethal sexual sadism is safely hetero.
Mine will not be religious, and its dangerous but non-lethal sexual sadism will be perilously homo.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Yeah, and which is worse...


it's margaret said...

somtimes St. Agatha is shown holding her bloody breasts on a platter in one hand and the pincers in another.

James said...

You tell 'em! Excellent post. I have to say that all the artwork you've produced that I've seen, not one time did I ever make an S&M connection.