Something big, thick, meaty and lovely to beholdEntertainment Feature, Section 4A Thursday, March 28th, 2013
The intercom buzzed late one recent afternoon and I answered the door. Dillon gave me a hug and accepted a frosty-cold mug filled with an amber microbrew. Bright last-day-of-winter sunlight splashed through the floor-to-ceiling windows. “Thanks for coming over,” I said.
“You said you wanted to show me something ‘big, thick, meaty and lovely to behold’, so of course I hurried right over. Where is he?”
I laughed and asked him to sit down and relax on the brown leather sofa. Dillon is a close friend and a very talented artist, working primarily with oils and pastels. Several of his large canvases are displayed on the walls of my North Park condominium, and I get a commission if I sell any of his paintings.
I display and sell other local artists work, too, but from his vantage point, Dillon could see only his own paintings. I admire his control of brush stroke and his eye for composition and attention to detail and balance. I also value his keen insight, sharp intellect and sense of humor. Plus he’s good looking in a Paul Newman sort of way.
Dillon’s eyes opened wide in jaw-dropping surprise when I pulled it out and slapped it hard on the coffee table.
“Can I hold IT?”
“Be my guest.”
“IT” was an advance copy of the Best of Gay Erotic Art book, Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man that I had invited Dillon to help me review. I told him I wanted to establish a backstory for the article, and capture his thoughts as he perused the diverse collection.
The hardcover anthology is big (9” x 12”), thick (370+ pages), meaty (featuring the work of 46 artists from around the planet), richly illustrated and lovely to behold. A pantheon of whole joys inspired by the male figure. Dillon ran his finger over the embossed letters on the dust cover, and opened the book.
He thumbed his way through the dream team of artists. Many are well-trained in classic style and techniques with readily-identifiable influences. Other artists such as Ted Fusby of Tucson, Ariz., are self-taught and influenced solely by the contents of their heart. Still others, including San Diego resident Joe Phillips, are influenced by comic strips and graphic arts, using digital painting and Photoshop to create vivid fun-loving portrayals.
Two artists in particular caught Dillon’s eye. He admired Allen Todd Yeager’s use of cross-hatching to create layers and depth; he praised his technique and style, and said the work was “tactile.” He said Yeager’s control exhibited a “restrained exuberance.” Dillon said Andrew Potter’s work was his favorite. He loved Potter’s composition and use of color, and said the images were “timeless.”
Together, we gazed at the sensuous images and called out influences as the pages turned. Tony de Carlo evinced the spirit and vibrancy of Frida Kahlo; James Childs’ creations were inspired by Greco-roman frescos and sculptures, the same classic references re-interpreted in the dazzling vision of Manolo Yanes; Joseph Radoccia’s subject matter and palette reminded us of Paul Gauguin; Raphael Perez evoked the collages of Henri Matisse; Valerntin Bakardjiev reflected the brilliance of Gustav Klimt.
We both were especially drawn to the big-as-life canvasses of Delmas Howe, sun-drenched depictions of cowboys toiling under endless skies, their labors shaded with religious undertones.
We both agreed that anybody who is an art lover will absolutely love this book.
As we turned the last glossy page and closed the volume, I asked Dillon to sum up the stunning collection of homoerotic work in one word.
“Sexy,” he replied.
Whatever your taste, you’ll find something that satisfies. From puppy love to piggy sex. From moments of carefree whimsy to those of private intimacy. From sneakers and gym shorts to boots and leather restraints.
Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man is intended to be taken seriously and is more than just another pretty face. Art of the male nude and especially gay erotic works are often excluded or overlooked by an ‘enlightened’ art community, and Capolavoro Art unabashedly brings together the finest gay erotic artists to create a breathtaking book.
The highly collectable publication also includes brief insightful interviews, and artists in their own words share their motivations, philosophies and histories. Every artist was drawn to the male form for various reasons, but one recurring theme was best summarized by R. E. Roberts, who wrote:
“From an artistic perspective, the male figure is endlessly fascinating and compelling; the strong angles and planes, curves, stance, expression and fluidity of form present unique interpretive challenges.”
One response to the “unique interpretive challenges” is the comic-book inspired creations of Joe Phillips, an artist whose early influences include J. C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell.
One look at his work and you’ll sense Joe has a constant smile on his face. You’ve seen his colorful and playful style on Superman* and Silver Surfer** comic book covers, and on advertisements for Bud Light***. I asked him what did it mean to be included in the collection of homoerotic art, and what would he want viewers to take away from his work?
Joe said he thought his work “gives the collection a balance” and that his art is not “in your face or to make a point.” He said his work is about “inner acceptance,” that some people are probably attracted to the “cute boys in the pictures.” Joe said, “Ultimately, I want people to look at my work and be happier.”
I also spoke with James Kennedy, director of Sales and Marketing with Capolavoro Art and asked him why this book, and why now?
James told me it was “a travesty” to embrace certain artistic traditions, but to shun the basic beauty of “the male nude and depictions of gay love.” James said the world “suffers artistically and culturally when not exposed to the full breadth of society’s talents and ideas.” He said the purpose of the book was to “showcase the tremendous diversity” of gay erotic art from “the finest artists in the world” and to “stimulate the debate of male nudity and gay love.”
The preview copy was missing the forward by Hans Van der Kamp, co-founder World Museum of Erotic Art, Amsterdam, and the acknowledgments. I was surprised by the lack of Asia-based artists, especially with the popularity of the anime style. These, however, are minor distractions and I have every confidence the final product will be a handsome well-groomed compendium.
Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man is a big, thick, meaty and lovely – and sexy book that would find a welcome home on any self- respecting coffee table.
* Superman is a registered trademark of DC Comics
** Silver Surfer is a registered trademark of Marvel Comics
*** Bud Light is a registered trademark of Anheuser-Busch
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