robert sherer / galleries / censored male nudes (1989-1996)

censored male nudes (1989-1996)

According to the art history of western civilization, the ideal male is a medium-built, shaven-bodied, fig leaf-wearing weightlifter. With few exceptions this ideal male does not have body hair or body fat, the two features common to most males. The exceptions are most often comical images of drunken satyrs such as Bacchus/Dionysus. The real male viewer is thus made to feel ashamed of his natural state when he only finds images of his body-type depicting foolish half-animals.

The ideal male form is a self-contradicting amalgam of male power lust, Christian prudery, and highbrow culture's fear of virility. Per the painted evidence, his primary interests appear to be killing his fellow man, sexual conquests, and martyrdom. The poses he strikes seldom suggest that he has the capacity for acquiescence, gentleness or relaxation. Despite the fact that the real male spends approximately one-third of his life asleep, the ideal male almost never sleeps. In fact, when he is depicted lying down he is most likely a victim of murder.

With these paintings I am attempting to represent men and masculinity as naturally as possible. As an academic studio oil painter, I feel it necessary to paint these men in the representational/realist mode because that is where the most contentious images were created historically. The feminist perspective has shown us how damaging the patriarchal painters have been to women. It is my intention to show how damaging they have been to men. It is also my goal to parody idealism with realism.

I view the male body simultaneously as a vehicle for addressing sociopolitical issues and as a locus of pleasure and aesthetics. The male body is a battleground of ideologies and interpretations. Capitalism treats it as a commodity; militarism views it as cannon fodder; heteronormativity promotes the body’s role in reproduction; and religion depicts it as a spiritual vessel.

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