***EDIT – part of the SYSTEMICS II book
[ some hints for modern artist, as well as deep but childlike males and females ]
When possibly one of the greatest painters of the female nude, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, had to lend his ear to the accusation of not being modern enough, not enough of a ‘revolutionary’ like ‘everyone else’ at the time, he replied, in order to justify his love for classicism and renaissance art, that, well, “the female form looks still the same like it used to”. What he sarcastically implied with that confident quote was that if that weren’t the case anymore, he wouldn’t actually bother painting. He would’ve probably just carried on playing the second violin in his local orchestra to pay the rent and get on with his life (that’s apparently what he really did at one stage). For me, it’s very interesting to look at the progression that went on, from the days he devoted to the exposition of the female form in an attempt to capture some of her divine mystery and beauty, to how the genre finally evolved to be suitable for the complexities of the world today.
Well – there came of course the impressionists, carried away under the steamy embraces of teen-nymph and wannabe-artist Suzanne Valadon and as far as I know there wasn’t a single one among the Montmatre crew – Renoir, Degas, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, you name it – who hadn’t succumbed to her seductive charms. All of them duly dedicated many of their female ‘impressions’ to her. The Valadon was, attaining fame as the most notorious muse in art history, perhaps the key to be officially ending the artistic discipline of nudes for the mainstream, as the mainstream was from now on required (as a preparation for the end-of-days) to be flooded with the self-ingratiating outbursts of nitpicking and mediocrity, protected under the puffed-up, gay hat of pseudo-sophistication, that was to become today’s modern art.
Of course, true artists can never be made to lay down their tools and beliefs, even if lying and pretending meant that they could carve a name for themselves. with worldwide fame and acclaim awaiting in a globally-governed, bullet-proof perception-managed world. True artists, however poverty-stricken, would carry on regardless, if that’s what has turned out to be their calling. What I’d like to demonstrate is that true artists are alive and well, only that they’re at home and fostered by the underground, and not the mainstream. They were forced to be off-grid with genuine self-expression.
Over the years, working away in the shadows gave them ample of opportunities to develop their skills, inquiries and excursions, so that they can confidently tackle the full scope of post-modern intricacies represented by today’s girls and women. Other than perpetuating stereotyped personas of female ‘existence’ that continued to deceive unsuspecting male minds through mainstream concoctions, they kept studying and bringing to light most of the subterranean female puzzles which are appropriate for the pinnacle of complexity that’s our modern world.
Not entirely underground but certainly repressed and underrated is Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein. Studying in Vienna under Rudolf Hausner, he had the privilege to be handed down a tradition of painting that was carried through into modernity under the modernist loophole of ‘phantasic realism’. There’s not a lot of chance to obtain such high-level teachings anymore (other than rare youtube tutorials). The hyper-realistic impact of already his early work in the seventies could not be left unnoticed. Vienna, the town that gave shelter to Freud, Schnitzler and Schiele, has this alchemistic nurturing ground of utter darkness under the bedding of gold-plated kitsch. Yet, like many artists truly groundbreaking, he didn’t quite feel accordingly cherished at home. Internationally, his phenomenal talent could hardly be dismissed, though, and some of the upper echelons would finally let him in. He was once dubbing himself the “fastest watercolour artist in the world” and it’s true that his painting technique is of such a stupendous craftmanship that most of the highly acclaimed technicians in the art world are made to look a bit silly in comparison.
While in his world of images we find motifs of abuse as well as historical and cultural hilarities that cite matters and pose questions of ultimately Divine Origin – if we generally look deeper into the art underground, the motif of the young girl and her quest for truth (unspoilt by ageing and the settling-in to socially-engineered notions of ‘adulthood’) can also have more positive and humorous notes and overtones. There are two artists that we’d like to feature in this breath. One is Trevor Brown who needed to exile himself from England to Japan to not face constant problems with his work. And the other is Stu Mead, an American who needed to exile himself to Berlin for the same reason. Both underwent the castigation of sinister pedo hunters and in reality just aren’t lucky enough to have someone like the Anti-Defamation League behind them who’d unconditionally back-up something like Borat with a statement like “if you don’t get the joke that the jokes about jews are in fact meant as a joke about all those hypocrites who secretly harbour hatred towards jewish people, then you really can’t be helped.” Both artists’ work hits nerves that run deep, both with males and females. Trevor Brown somewhere said that most of the ideas come from his girlfriend who used to work as a bunny in a topless Tokyo bar and that the majority of his fans are in fact girls, most often as young as the ones depicted. Similar phenomena can be assumed with Stu Meads’ work as well. From what I can see, by bringing into the open matters that are usually kept in the dark, they’re actually empowering girls not only to speak up for themselves but to also assert the confidence that they deserve to have already from a very young age.
Both artists (like Helnwein) counter the increasing complexity of the female mystery by directly harking back to a girl’s youth, rather than wasting their time raising pseudo-relevant questions around her adult stereotype. I feel that this is the main reason why the nerve they hit goes so deep. It takes a lot of courage for a woman to face up to the reality of ageing and decay. It’s much easier if you’re still a girl …
The other thing is, while the abuse of girls – beneath the compassion-feigning blanket of media-spurned pedo-clampdown (reminiscent of police officers wading through ‘evidence’ of dirty pictures under the pretence of persecution) – actually happens on a large scale through the indoctrination of evolutionist belief from the very beginning of their lives (as we’ve discussed with our Nabokov & Casanova essay), there are no other outlets left to correct the catastrophe, except the murky world of a ‘forbidden’ underground. I don’t feel that the following work is murky at all but very sweet and true, instead. It’s also humourous and light, despite the underlying heavy reality that’s being conveyed. What a shame it hasn’t been around more to wipe away all the self-pitying modernist ‘filth’.
Talking of filth, we’d actually like to take our position even further and move into the climactic tail of this paper. While it’s most certainly true that pornography is some of the worst things that have infested mankind, I feel that ‘erotic art’ should have a place within art that’s honoured and maintained accordingly. The mystery of sexuality and eroticism really shouldn’t be left to scientists or men of letters to explore but to artist as well – perhaps even exclusively. Only the both majestic as well as truth-seeking power of art can keep any conclusions on such sensitive personal matters alive and imbued with due dignity.
Comic art is considered art probably only in France, Italy and Spain where, coincidentally, also the most outstanding fine art draftsmen are to be found. While comics have been used early on as a propaganda tool to denigrate man (at the hands of CIA, Tavistock Institute, etc), it can of course happen that within such a straightforward yet versatile genre, talents of rare kind and scope can find an outlet to say what they need to say. Jean Giraud aka Moebius is certainly such a talent. The early Milo Manara as well. The movie The Matrix would’ve never been sold without Geoff Darrow’s pen-power.
There are quite a few graphic novel artists who’ve actually influenced my own art. Occasionally, some of them would even extend their influence into my writing. There’s one artist who has particularly done so and from among all the ones that we’ve presented in here, he’s also the least known and most repressed. It wasn’t enough to simply cast him out as a ‘pornographer’ since that’s not what he is. Sure, his drawings are explicitly depicting human beings in acts of wetted encounters and sure, his stories revolve mainly around sucking and screwing. But so do plenty of really pornographic things out there and they’re not as repressed as he is – if any. Besides, whenever I catch glimpses of today’s television or newspaper clips, I can’t quite tell oftentimes whether I’m not actually looking at writhing, glistening flashes of skin wiggling and contorting rather than grimacing clowns airing all sorts of ill-founded opinions that they’ve been trained and paid to depict and sell.
In Ferocius’s case, things are entirely different. Mr. Fred Harrison, alias McFrahap alias Ferocius is an outstanding artist of a pretty rare talent. His drawing skills are impeccable. I’ve seen many great draftsmen throughout the years and would like to think that I myself have achieved some kind of mastership after many years of arduous training. Yet, Mr. Ferocius can do anything he wants, really. Not only are his compositions always fresh and sharp (despite hundreds of painstaking panels that need to be done for each album), facial expressions and people’s postures are also continuously brilliant. They’re even completely in line with the complex psychology of each character, including all the twists and double-binds that any true character has. This really doesn’t happen in the genre of graphic novels, not even with the most ingeniuous writers and artists. And did I forget to mention the colours? Just outstanding. Go and try to find anyone with a similar talent for vibrant colours. Is it because he’s Chilenian?
Anyway. Even if these were some of the reasons for his severe repression – from what I can see, the real reason is that he uncannily conveys human psychology, and especially the unspeakable one, the female mystery, female desire, the female ‘way’. If there’s to be any ‘course book’ to study the mechanisms of intimacy then it would be his work, I think. Behind the beautiful drawings and colours, and behind the humping, licking and squirting, it’s incredibly rich and deep. While it would of course seduce the unsuspecting into embarrassing phenomena of engorging desires, it makes the born-again innocent explode with countless insights and page after page roaring with laughter. Each of his albums would also raise quite different issues behind the explicit romping. Some of his best work like Sosumi and Eldorado would juxtapose the crookedness of western notions of sex with the perhaps a bit too one-dimensional ones of indignant peoples. Others would ironically expose the often cold-blooded mechanisms of female desire and all sorts of cunning coupling strateges, in order to re-adjust the sad brainwashing of supposed male inadequacy (Tender Ivory, Send in a Coupon, Contacts, Free as a Bird). Oftentimes, he deals with the psychology of girls who’re quite young (Forbidden Flower, Intimate Memories, Butterfly Boarding School) and what they’re capable of doing to male ‘heads’ around them whenever they’ve confidently been let loose. His sense of humour is generally uplifting and witty rather than sarcastic or scathing. Unlike ‘normal’ pornography and no matter how frequently sex is occurring, Ferocius is in fact never actually ignoring the seriousness of sexual intercourse – but rather, with raised eybrows and furrowed forehead, commenting on the pettiness that stems from being driven entirely by desire. What he’s ultimately capable of doing is to transcend our trapped state of ‘playing with mud without realising that it is dirty’ into plain humour and humility. Rather than contaminating or spoiling, he’s actually enlightening us with truth and insight. And at the same time able to redeem all those otherwise hopelessly lost and forever doomed.
[ tags: art, art market, nudes, pornography, models, muses, modernism, sharlatans, female mystery, girls, young girls, stereotype, psychology, eroticism, desire, lust, pettiness, lying, pretending, … ]