Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Art Erotica 2012: 'It's all a bit wanky'

Sex has been very much on my mind recently. One way or another I've been confronted with a lot of sexual imagery. What with art (Johnathan Yeo), film (Shame) and a lot of people kissing around the City of London (I blame the time of year), I wondered if I'd reached sensory overload when I contemplated visiting the ArtEroticaExhibition2012 in Cork Street, W1.

Turns out I'm insatiable and there were a number of pieces with which I'd quite like to have another encounter.

This open exhibition has two aims; to showcase new talent and raise money for charity. This year was their first themed show and they wanted 'to explore the erotic in a wide variety of ways, to be a showcase for contemporary work in the genre, and to make a meaningful contribution to the genre'. With these thoughts in mind let's turn to the art.

To create something consciously and genuinely erotic is extraordinarily difficult. After all there are as many variations in sexual tastes as there are brains to create images, which in fairness the gallery acknowledges. Much of the art is what you'd expect - some is mundane, expected, 'vanilla' almost. However a few pieces were interesting which probably is going to more say more about me than the art. All images taken from the exhibition site.

'Gemma' by Margot Lemons caught my eye because it is chaotic, unfinished and gives the impression of unravelling, yet all within an opulent frame. This gives it a sense of dirty provocation and the erotic suggestion is waved at you by the disconnected stiletto sandal. Embroidery is a hobby I've never mastered; it's something that has a mysterious quality so I feel that this picture is especially feminine and seductive. 

Contrasting with the embroidery is the photograph pixelated 'Untitled no 8' by Paul Frith which virtually screamed at me as I looked, stood back and half closed my eyes. The image, hidden yet obvious. The image here does it no justice at all.

I admit it's an obvious, cliche shot and reminiscent of the virtually pornographic Jeff Coons, however its scale and arresting nature I found shockingly erotic.

The other pieces of interest were the installations by Georgina S Paton. Both her 'Door Knocker' and 'Breaking Free From the Ropes of Life's Corset' were interesting. The Knocker simply made me chuckle.

However the second was thought provoking and beautifully crafted. The 3D quality is suggestively voyeuristic and the tactile textures yearning to be touched. The nipped in waist ambiguously could be either evidence that she is wearing a corset or they are the marks of a recently removed item of clothing. Either way, it is elegantly disturbing.

And finally my favourite piece, the wonderfully named 'The morning after the night before the morning after' by Holly Revell.The time lapse photograph depicts the movement of time and the transience of sexual encounters; the key image being that of sated exhaustion. However the viewer knows that events are going to happen all over again the next night, and the next.  
Perhaps the disappointing aspect of the show is the venue itself which is distinctly unerotic. A white cube type space in W1 is far too 'clean'; the surroundings needed to be a little more secret, rough around the edges and imaginative. Saying that, however the window display is interesting. I had a moment of sexual discomfort as I shared the window with a statue of very well endowed gentleman and Jamil Naqsh intriguing boxed in geometric flesh toned nudes. A moment of Amsterdam shop front sexuality; the viewer becomes the viewed.

But most importantly did it achieve its aims? Overall I felt it was as erotic as any other erotic art show and probably didn't say anything very new but it contained enough humour and interest to make it worthwhile. The events held in conjunction with it offer an extra dimension, with the lecture on history of erotic art lecture by Edward Lucie-Smith being entertaining and informative.

So perhaps for the time being I should go find something non sexual to look at...

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