How are artists influenced by pornography? This can be seen from February 5 onwards at gallery MooiMan. Erotic seduction in art and by artists viewed from the world of porn. With earlier theme shows, such as “My Female Eye” on how female artists perceive the naked man, and “My Classic Eye,” in which nudity is seen from a classical point of view, it’s now pornography’s turn.
With thematic exhibitions, the gallery shows how surprising and diverse male art can be. The gallery goes beyond platitudes such as “gay art,” having shown the (gay) man in art for more then ten years now. Proud and going against the flow, the gallery shows bold themes with a deeper layer, for instance how artists have been inspired by porn, not shying away from openly showing it uncensored and with passion.
The exhibition shows an enormous diversity in sexy and imaginative stimuli of how pornography is applied by numerous national and international artists and how it affects our senses. Known Berlin artist Rinaldo Hopf shows four full-scale works from his series “Karma” in which international porn stars, such as Logan Mc Cree, are provocatively painted in bright watercolors. Porn stars with status as an artist’s muse, returning to classic situations in which prostitutes often were the muse for artists.
Besides erotic photography, drawings, paintings, ceramics and bronzes, the exhibition also shows video works by the Spanish artist Antonio da Silva. In his video “PIX,” among other expressions, the artist shows the hunger for sex, holding up a mirror to gay men who are looking for quick sex and shamelessly reveal all on dating sites.
House of Boys
The basis for this exhibition, however, is the new and explicit erotic book “House of Boys: Erotic Drawings, Part 1” by German artist Hannes Steinert. It is the tenth publication in book form by gallery MooiMan, also responsible for the unique design. Hannes Steinert lives and works in Stuttgart, contributing to numerous exhibitions in both his home country and abroad. His first show in the Netherlands was in 1996 in Nijmegen at Villa Lila.
The book is introduced by Markus Pfalzgraf, TV journalist and presenter, curator of the Schwules Musem and author of “Stripped: The Story of Gay Comics” (2012). Following are some excerpts from this introduction.
Hannes Steinert: A Propagandist of Passion
In the year 1987, in the midst of the first wave of the AIDS crisis, there was still a hell of a lot going on, according to Hannes Steinert, who at the time was wandering about Amsterdam’s gay scene, then the European epicentre of gay culture: spacious attics of old city houses, dark basements with little air to breathe left by the leather-clad men flocking to these places. And then there’s a “House of Boys.” Young Hannes is a shy guy, a bit uptight, but he wants to dig deep into that world so badly - the world he already came in touch with in German cruising areas, the one in Stuttgart being known as the “Ho Chi Minh trail” at the time, when it was not too far from provincial Southern Germany to the European capital of sin.
Next thing you know, the party is over. Too many drugs, the unknown virus, and the first deaths. Sex under surveillance.
Life must go on. Art must go on. Hannes Steinert has always stuck to his have-to-see-it-all approach, wanting to dig into every aspect of gay life, stopping at nothing, including other sexualities and genders. Of course, the (gay) male is at the centre of his interest and erotic works, but there has always been room for playing with gender roles. The artist is interested also in the anatomy of ambiguous or transforming bodies.
A propagandist of lust both as a motif and as a driving force - that’s how Hannes Steinert sees himself. A drawing and painting erotomaniac.
In his ink drawings of men and their interaction, elements of other spheres from his work can be found: the occasional abstraction, the playfully inserted still life, or his trademark ink blots, bringing in just a dash of irony. Color is being used sparsely, and if it’s used, it comes with a strong message, e.g., red to enhance a sense of sexuality.
Hannes Steinert has always been a man of the drawn line, inspired by Jean Cocteau from the late 1970s on. While the layout of the line is essential in his abstract works, e.g., when an abstract element is finished by drawing it in one single line, it is more of an aide to the structure of the whole composition in his figurative homoerotic works: Hannes uses a pattern of parallel lines as a background for different scenes showing larger or smaller groups of young men at times.
Catching a glimpse of an orgiastic scene has a long tradition in erotic art. They date back to the Marquis de Bayros’ fin de siècle decadence often labelled as “perverted.” Bayros himself must be seen in the tradition of Aubrey Beardsley, who also inspired Hannes Steinert. Beardsley didn’t shy away from drawing disproportionately large men’s genitals which from today’s perspective may appear as potent and ridiculous at the same time. Both Bayros’ and Beardsley’s works breathe a shamelessness in the best sense of the word. This spirit can be found in Steinert’s works, too: It comes across as sort of a plea for the penis.
His embodiments of male sexuality do not necessarily reflect Steinert’s personal preferences. He has seen many excessive gay sex scenes, also through the eye of the artist interested in motives. Not everything he witnessed in Amsterdam’s attics and in Berlin’s basements was really his thing. Also, he does not even try to imitate Tom of Finland. Steinert’s guys are not drawn according to certain models. Nevertheless, some types return in different situations in order to distinguish them and to have some sort of recognition.
These characters, their action, from masturbation to group sex - should this be regarded as pornography? This is a term Hannes cann’t relate to. For him, “pornography” is a moral term forced upon sexuality. For him, it is essential that “we are not only rational and spiritual beings, but also sexual ones.” To propagate passion and lust is an important task for him as an artist, now and then.
Especially for the publication of “House of Boys,” Hannes Steinert created three new works: a screen print and two linocuts. These artworks are made in limited editions of twenty-five and can only by purchased in combination with the book.
“My Porn Eye: The Influence of Gay Porn on Art”
Till April 1, 2017
Gallery MooiMan, Noorderstationsstraat 40,
9717 KP Groningen www.mooi-man.nl