Monday, 5 December 2016

Mark Hopper - The Road To Hell

Mark Hopper: Painfully Pretty, Plastic Misdemeanour Series, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark Hopper: Crash Alien, Man Who Smashed Earth Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Life is all about stories, about discoveries and understandings. Stories are journeys, narratives that rumble over the years of your life, but also that rumble over the generations of voices, crunching over the bones of lives lived and unlived, stories told and untold. Narratives rumble on, seemingly regardless and certainly relentless.

Art is the great story, and the artist is the great storyteller. Art is a theme of our lives that is often seen as ephemeral, a sideline, bearing no real consequence on who we are and where we are going, but of course that is both a purposeless and purposeful misconstruct, art is everything. Art and artists tell the story that others can't, they join up the cosmic dots, allowing us to see what its all about. Mark Hopper is one of those artists.

Mark Hopper: Transmission Prophet, The Road To Hell Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark Hopper: My Sickening Fear, The Man Who Smashed Earth Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark is an artist that lifts the veil, uncovers the mask, tears into the shared human subconscious and reveals what there is to find, horrors and certainties, love and pain, accidents and malice. Mark produces work that is on the one hand a carnival of the grotesque, and on the other hand a theatre of complexity. 

Certainty is nowhere to be found in Mark's work beyond the certainty that none will ever be found. This is an artist that deals with the maelstrom, that found in our contemporary dysfunctional world, and that found in the longer term world, the world that gave birth to the ape that we are, the ape that we have stretched immeasurable beyond, but the ape that is still dancing around inside us, excited, scared, loving and malevolent.

Mark Hopper: Blind Faith, The Road To Hell Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark Hopper: Suck It and Sin, The Road To Hell Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark's work is upfront and in your face, purposely so. This is not work that will be universally liked, nor should it be. Art should make you uncomfortable, uneasy, on edge. It should make you ask difficult questions, consider the dark as much as the light. We are a broken vessel of daytime and night, we have angels and we have monsters, and the monsters are unleashed by Mark in their droves.

With titles for series of work that include: The Man Who Smashed Earth, The Road to Hell, The Executioner, Mark slams you up against the wall, the wall built up of the irrational, the greedy, the depraved. These are the undercurrents of what it is to be human, the undercurrents that many don't like to talk about in polite society. It is the slick dark flow of consciousness that is deemed by the morally stuck as 'unfriendly', 'unnecessary', 'difficult', and so it is.

Mark Hopper: Exploding Christ, The Road To Hell Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark Hopper: Sod Is An Angel, The Road To Hell Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark and his work play a valuable role in this upside down world that we live in. A world of irony and falsehood, a world of masks and curtains, a world imagined real, but desperately unreal. Mark gives us the world of 'warts and all', and yes it's uncomfortable, but don't we need to know where we are, rather than where we imagine that we are?

More of Mark's work can be found at: Facebook, Instagram

Please also be aware that the work of the artist used to illustrate this article, was generously supplied by that artist. Reproducing that work without permission is really not recommended, thanks! 

Mark Hopper: False Prophets, The Executioner Project: Electric Chair Series, 2016 (digital artwork)

Mark Hopper: Crucified Brain Injury, The Road To Hell Project, 2016 (digital artwork)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Emmanuel Barrouyer - Gender and Identity

Emmanuel Barrouyer: As Julie, 2013

Who are we really? Are we who we believe ourselves to be, or are we who we are told that we are? Most of us are born and raised with identities that are projected on to us from outside. Others tell us who we are, family, friends, school. They give us a name, a gender, an identity. We build on that through childhood and adolescence, so that in adulthood we believe that we are who we are because that is a truth, a reality, a fixed point in space and time, but is it?

In an increasingly multiple world, one where the old simplistic binary system of black/white, on/off, positive/negative, has been shown to be woefully inadequate, we see a different world opening up. One with sliding scales of existence, interpretations of being. One where gender is multiplied so that a whole range of genders, seemingly infinite, can be appropriated by the individual, not just for a lifetime, but for segments of a lifetime, and in many ways that is the key to the contemporary themes of gender and identity, the individual.

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Boy's Legs, 2014

The French artist, actor, photographer and performer Emmanuel Barrouyer addresses these contemporary issues of gender and identity, in his work. He most often uses himself in various staged self portraits, where it appears as if he is himself, but the ambiguity of self and identity are always close by, so that portraits of Emmanuel are often not portraits at all.

Emanuel's artwork dealing with gender and identity started off in 2013 when he began to impersonate female friends, as in the pieces As Julie, and Boys Legs. This gave him the impetus to start exploring who we are, and more importantly, who others see us as. How do others identify us? Is it real, or is it delusional. Does it help liberate us, or does it increasingly imprison us?

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Statued V - Faune Endormi, 2016

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Statued XIII - Venus, 2016

In his Statued series of 2016, Emmanuel digitally encased himself within classical sculpture, playing with nudity of flesh and stone, sliding scales of interpretation and understanding. Was he producing self portraits of flesh or stone, statued men, or embodied statues?

In his 2015 series U'ReInALonelySituation, Emmanuel explored desire and identity by connecting bathroom graffiti with classical sculpture. Another sliding scale of need and desire in the written scrawls on a bathroom wall, and the disconnected and remote signature of the classical statue. Desire sits within the genitals, just as it sits within the words on the bathroom wall.

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Qui suce bien..., 2015

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Viens Vite..., 2015

In his Silencio series, which he first revealed on the Balaclava.Q site this year, he has returned to the primal question of identity. Who am I? Why am I? Where am I? What am I? Many of us constantly ask ourselves these questions, and to be fair, many of us don't. Who we are to ourselves and who we are to others, sometimes these identities, sometimes they don't. It very often depends on how honest we want to be with ourselves, and here lies the strength of Emmanuels work. Honesty.

Emmanuel is an artist who wants to know. He doesn't play with gender and identity in order to shock, in order to offend, in order to make a name for himself. He genuinely wants to know who he is, whether he is the amalgamation of the beliefs of others, or if there is something at the core of self that is intrinsically him, and intrinsically knows that it is him, no matter what might be added or subtracted later through the journey of life, and that is something we all want and need to know.

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Silencio II, 2016

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Silencio IX, 2016

As an addition, Emmanuel has produced a series of work that was in reaction to the death of David Bowie at the beginning of this year, the series is entitled The Man Who Fell To Earth. The two pieces shown here: Diving, and Visitation from that series, are Emmanuels own tribute and have no direct connection to the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth, or indeed of David Bowie himself.

A selection of Emmanuels photography work can be found at three tumblr sites: Emmanuel BarrouyerEmmanuel Barrouyer Photography and Emmanuel Barrouyer Black & Whites. His Silencio series can be found at the Balaclava.Q site.

All imagery produced in this article belongs to the artist Emmanuel Barrouyer and is therefore copyrighted. Please ask permission before reproducing. Thank you.

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Diving, 2016

Emmanuel Barrouyer: Visitation, 2016

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Anita Steckel: Anita of New York Meets Tom of Finland, 2005 (mixed media on book pages)

Cut-Ups: Queer Collage Practices brings together works by an intergenerational group of fourteen queer artists who explore the collaged page or the scrapbook with diverse, erotically inclined tactics. The exhibition draws from both archival collections and contemporary practices, focusing on how these artists reuse the pieces of print culture for worldmaking projects ranging from the era of gay liberation to the present. Cut Ups: Queer Collage Practices opens on October 14, 2016 to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art direct from Los Angeles where it was exhibited as Cock, Paper, Scissors (April 2 – July 10, 2016). This exhibition was organized by David Evans Frantz, Curator at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries; Lucas Hilderbrand, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Director of Visual Studies at UC Irvine; and Kayleigh Perkov, Ph.D. Candidate in Visual Studies at UC Irvine. 

 Jade Yumang: Weeklies #19.37 (New York City), 2012

Cut-Ups: Queer Collage Practices places special focus on the work of four rarely exhibited artists that produced collages for personal pleasure drawn from the collections at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. From ONE, this includes the anonymous “Graphic Albums Collection,” which combines gay male pornography with pages from interior design and visual arts magazines, and collages by erotic artist Olaf Odegaard. From the Leslie-Lohman Museum, the anonymous “West End Avenue Collection,” is a vast archive of Xeroxed collages of BDSM imagery, many including Nazi fetishism, and collages by psychic Ingo Swann, who developed a process known as “remote viewing” for the CIA during the 1970s. In addition, the exhibition includes collages by Steve Blevins as reproduced in gay porn magazines from the 1980s, often as illustrations for erotic fiction. Theses eclectic producers all utilize gay male pornography to innovative and wildly explicit ends. 

Suzanne Wright: Double Trouble, 2014 (photo collage)

Cut-Ups, while undoubtedly a celebration of the numerous uses of gay male pornography, includes historical and contemporary feminist collage practices that address gay male phallocentrism with feminist critique and lesbian power. This exhibition incorporates a site-specific installation by feminist pioneer Mary Beth Edelson, part of an ongoing series of collage projects initiated years after her renowned collage posters of the 1970s; and a series of mixed-media collages by veteran feminist artist Anita Steckel that places the artist within drawings by Tom of Finland, exploring the possibility of alternate forms of cross-gender desire and visual pleasure. 

Suzanne Wright: Untitled (Holding Colony), 2015 (photo collage)

Many of the artists in Cut-Ups: Queer Collage Practices utilize collage for deconstruction or intervention within the circulation of images. Enrique Castrejon meticulously cuts-up and measures the figures from the gay porn magazine Black Inches. Jonathan Molina-Garcia combines images of his own body with those of older HIV+ men as part of a larger series on gay male intergenerational knowledge. Suzanne Wright merges the female body with monumental and utopian architecture. Glenn Ligon plays with the vernacular form of the photo-album, combining fetishistic photographs of Black men with family photographs. Jade Yumang screen-prints pages from vintage porn magazines onto fancifully decorative bundles of soft sculpture phalluses. In a newly commissioned work responding to the archive of West End, Kate Huh utilizes fragments from the collection to produce collages that are embroidered by LJ Roberts. 

Suzanne Wright: Untitled (3rd Street Tunnel), 2015 (photo collage)

Cut-Ups: Queer Collage Practices is accompanied the Cock, Paper, Scissors catalogue, featuring essays by the exhibition’s curators, three original interviews with artists, and reprints of historical texts. The catalogue, published by ONE Archives at the USC Libraries with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, is designed by Kimberly Varella of Content Object. 

Enrique Castrejon: Anonymous male passenger fragmented and measured in inches, 2016 (collage, glue, pigment ink, and graphite on paper)

Cock, Paper, Scissors is organized by David Evans Frantz, Curator at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries; Lucas Hilderbrand, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Director of Visual Studies at UC Irvine; and Kayleigh Perkov, Ph.D. Candidate in Visual Studies at UC Irvine. Support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by the City of West Hollywood through its Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and the ONE Archives Foundation. Generous support for the catalogue to accompany this exhibition is provided by the Pasadena Art Alliance, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and the USC Libraries.
The exhibition runs until December 18 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, NYC.

All imagery and text were kindly supplied by the Leslie-Lohman Museum and the copyright for both, is theirs. 

About the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
“…invaluable museum.” Holland Cotter, New York Times, June 2013
“a mirror for gay history,” Hugh Ryan, Smithsonian, July 2015

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is the first and only dedicated LGBTQ art museum in the world with a mission to exhibit and preserve LGBTQ art, and foster the artists who create it. The Museum has a permanent collection of over 30,000 objects, 6-8 major exhibitions annually, artist talks, film screenings, readings, THE ARCHIVE - a quarterly art newsletter, a membership program, and a research library. The Leslie-Lohman Museum began as the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, Inc., a non-profit founded in 1987 by Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman, who have supported gay and lesbian artists for over 30 years. The Leslie-Lohman Museum embraces the rich creative history of the LGBTQ art community by educating, informing, inspiring, entertaining, and challenging all who enter its doors. 

The Museum is located at 26 Wooster Street in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Admission is free, and hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 12-6 pm, and Thursday, 12-8 pm. The Museum is closed Monday and all major holidays. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is a non-profit organization and is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)3 of the IRS Code. The Museum can be reached at 212-431-2609. For more information, go

Monday, 21 November 2016

Andrew Stephen Norris and the Gender Role

Andrew Stephen Norris

Human sexuality, along with human identity, has always been on a sliding scale. We are not born fixed, we do not live fixed, and we do not die fixed. Therefore, why are we encouraged to have one identity, and to travel through life with that one identity? It is often ill-fitting, and in many cases detrimental to our mental health and well-being.

Some artists are beginning to address the peculiarities of societies rules concerning sexual identity and gender identity, particulary those who it affects personally and deeply, one of those artists is Andrew Stephen Norris. 

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 1

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 2

Andrew is an artist that deals with his own journey of gender role identity. That identity is locked in at an early age. We are defined by standards and expectations, whether we are identified by others as a boy or as a girl. We have to play the game, and if we don't play the game by the set rules, there are consequences.

Most of us are policed, either passively or aggressively from birth as to our gender roles. Andrew remembers the first expectations of what it is to be male, being reinforced by comic books, comic books play a big role in Andrews work. Comic book superheroes were invariably male, and were invariably strong and dominant. They played the role they were expected to play, because society had set the rules for the male gender.

Andrew Stephen Norris: Balance

Andrew Stephen Norris: Dangerous

Toxic Masculinity, is a series of work by Andrew that captures the elements of constructed masculinity that is at the core of both comic books and advertising for males. By combining models from Calvin Klein advertising, along with the costumes of superheroes, Andrew picks up an the masculine gender role that has been constructed by society as a norm.

Violence, emotional detachment, and sexual aggressiveness are employed by the constructs of society as the gender norm for males. By combining comic book and advertising, Andrew is helping to question the absurdity of the alpha male. Super hero and super model collide into Toxic Masculinity, showing up through exaggerated gender norms, the difficulty of expectations of maleness. 

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 4

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 3

Many men don't identify with the gender roles that are tagged as masculinity. This often leads many into dysfunctional and often destructive habits, often lifelong ones. Overcompensating, or undercompensating maleness is a serious issue, particulary when it comes to the treatment of women.

As individuals, we are not our gender, our gender is a reflection of us. However, that is not the norm as yet, and so we have generation after generation of standardised gender roles that have no way of fitting the individual, because they were never meant to.

Andrew Stephen Norris: Testosterone

Andrew Stephen Norris: Virile

In another series of work, Andrew identifies through a series of portraits, key elements of masculine identity of self. Each portrait is given an identity, that identity is the personal definition of masculinity of the sitter, as seen from their childhood definition. None of the titles in this series are wrong or misplaced, but they do speak volumes about the narrow confines of gender identity, and in that there is an element of sadness and neglect.

As we drift further away from the binary definition of gender, as we begin to explore who we are in ourselves, we begin to re-identify ourselves, not as who we were told we were, but who we feel we are. In this we are helped by the contemporary art world, and by artists such as Andrew Stephen Norris who question the standards imposed on us from outside, and that can only ever be a good thing.

More of Andrew's work can be found at his comprehensive website:

Please also be aware that all imagery from this artist feature is the property of the artist, and should not be reshared without permission from that artist.

Andrew Stephen Norris: Illusion

Friday, 18 November 2016


Andrew Salgado: Let's Start a War, 2016 (oil and oil pastel on canvas)

Beers is thrilled to present Andrew Salgado’s The Snake. Following 10 sell-out solo shows that have taken place in major cities all over the world, Salgado explains that the title refers both to his own sense of re-birth as an artist as well as the allegorical nature the show. 

Andrew Salgado: Lazarus, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray on canvas with collage, mixed media and hand-stitched and hand-dyed linen over 6 canvases)
Andrew Salgado: Four Swans, 2016 (oil, oil pastel and spray, on canvas with hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen)

The 11 works on display are largely inspired by the recent Orlando massacre in Florida, which killed 49 people, making it the largest mass-murder in American history. As a gay man, Salgado subscribes to Francis Bacon’s dictum that ‘it’s not the paintings that are violent, but the world itself’, Salgado finds himself once again revisiting themes of brutality and masculinity. Salgado - himself a victim of a hate-related attack in 2008 - has often referenced broad ideas around hatred, destruction and re-birth in his work since The Misanthrope, his first solo in London with the gallery in 2012.

For the show, Salgado and Beers gallery have created a 'Garden of Eden' of sorts, lining the gallery with grass and painting the entire space green. Salgado claims that there’s a heart of darkness to the works, which isn’t immediately obvious. “I want people to feel like they’re walking into a clandestine space,” he states. “there’s something evil and seductive about the show as a whole.”
Andrew Salgado: Warmask, 2016 (oil and oil pastel on linen with collage)

Andrew Salgado: Orlando, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray, butterfly on hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen and canvas)

Arriving in the wake of Brexit and Trump as President, the works tell a story about the state of acceptance globally. “Orlando was what spurred me on to looking at the ills around the world”, says Salgado. Many of the subjects represent outsiders, each of them an alien, wounded soul, or outcast in some way, painted on canvases that have been and stitched and hand-dyed by the artist. Let’s Start A War depicts Salgado’s first ever Muslim-born subject, which is embellished with icons and symbols, including a Klu Klux Klan leader brandishing a burning cross. “We’re waking-up every morning to more race-related attacks and assaults based on sexual or religious preferences. We seem to have reached our lowest point, the deepest hatred for our neighbour, and these sentiments ricochet like some horrific echo chamber.” The resulting painting, Echo Chamber, features a portrait of Salgado's friend, artist Sandro Kopp, which perhaps best articulates the show's dark, seductively dizzying application, bold colour palette and reverberating brushwork.  

Andrew Salgado: The Snake in situ, 2016

Andrew Salgado: The Snake in situ, 2016

Female subjects also figure strongly in the show, including a Egypt (The Fiddle and Drum), titled after the Joni Mitchell anti-war anthem; The Dancing Serpent, a hopeful work that Salgado places as the 'heart' of the exhibition titled after the Charles Baudelaire poem; and ultimately concluding with the confrontational Chysalis (Portrait of a Girl), which features Salgado’s good friend and first transgender subject. The show, from Festival to Orlando, is meant to be read as one full cycle, like the Ouroboros – an ancient Grecian symbol of a snake consuming its own tail, to symbolize something recreating itself.

Andrew Salgado: Afterlife Osiris, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray paint with mixed media and collage on canvas with hand-painted and hand-dyed linen)
Andrew Salgado: Echo Chamber, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray-paint on canvas and linen)

In many ways, the metaphor of the snake appeals to Salgado as this symbol of re-birth and healing, as well as his own process of 'shedding his skin' as a painter. This is mimicked as portrait of existence, The Snake presents our collective suffering as ultimately hopeful, with the knowledge, fear and joy that comes as part of being human. 

*  *  *
Beers will release a monograph of Andrew Salgado’s work, TEN, this December, currently available for pre-purchase at the gallery or by visiting book will be accompanied by an exhibition at The Gallery of the Canadian High Commission in London opening 12 January 2017. 

Exhibition runs from: 12 November - 17 December 2016
Andrew Salgado: The Dancing Serpent, 2016 (oil and oil pastel on canvas, staples, with hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen)

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Nikki Luna: Quince (2), 2016 (cast resin and lace in light box)

Nikki Luna is a multi-media artist who creates sculptures and installations that deal with a number of social issues. Through her studio practice and travels, Luna has explored and conceptualised situations that address violence, inequality, gender roles and sexual exploitation against women in the Philippines. These complex narratives have been collected and symbolised through a range of materials such as resin, ceramics, blood, marble dust, sugar, neon, and sound.

In Play Ground, Luna presents 15 sculptural objects. Each object is composed of a gun made from cast resin and lace, placed in individual lightboxes that line the walls of the gallery. The translucence of the resin reveals the lace within the object. In this way, both victim and the instigator of violence coexist in a sombre, ethereal cenotaph. The objects all bear the title Quince (pronounced "kinse" from the Spanish word for the number 15). Each weapon makes reference to both individual acts of violence as well as the recurring ways that the number 15 engages them.

Nikki Luna: Play Ground exhibition, 2016 - Owen James Gallery

Nikki Luna: Play Ground exhibition, 2016 - Owen James Gallery

The gun and its corresponding victim play a role in the unending litany of violence and repression that the artist has documented over the years. One gun, for example, represents the sidearm carried by a police officer who imprisoned and prostituted 15 year old girls over a number of years. Another stands for an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and killed on the 15th of August, 1989. Yet another gun symbolised a young girl, who never even reached 15 years of age but was shot by two men hunting her grandfather, an alleged drug pusher. In another sense, in the Catholic Church, the number 15 in the monthly calendar stands for a day of rest, as well as the day that Jesus was laid in his tomb. Symbolic of rest in peace, Luna here embraces the sad significance that these senseless acts never cease.

Nikki Luna: Quince (3), 2016 (cast resin and lace in light box)

Nikki Luna: Play Ground exhibition, 2016 - Owen James Gallery

The present situation in the Philippines makes these stories and their physical representations all the more prescient. 100 days in office, President Rodrigo Duterte has engaged on an unforgiving crackdown against dug users and sellers. To date, almost 4000 Filipino citizens have been killed, many by fellow civilians. Increasingly condemned internationally, many fear that Duterte's promise to not prosecute the killers has only encouraged the further embrace of violence in a country already mired by a brutal legacy of it.

The guns are cast from a Filipino Policeman's sidearm. By casting the guns, Nikki Luna is not just mourning the women who have suffered in violence. She is also making a call to arms for herself and all women. As she says, "Womanhood is a weapon."

Nikki Luna: Quince (1), 2016 (cast resin and lace in light box)

Nikki Luna: Play Ground exhibition, 2016 - Owen James Gallery

Play Ground will coincide with the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which takes place on November 25th.

The Nikki Luna: Play Ground exhibition runs until November 30 at the Owen James Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.

Text and imagery are the property of the Owen James Gallery and the artist Nikki Luna.

Nikki Luna: Quince (2), 2016 (cast resin and lace in light box)