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Entries for December 2009:
Thursday, December 31, 2009
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If you don't see the images of a review, it means that I've transferred it to the new site.
Peter Flinsch: The Body In Question
Year of publication: 2008.
Published last year, Peter Flinsch: The Body in Question (published
by Arsenal Pulp Press, text
by Ross Higgins) is a fascinating monograph about an artist whose life seems to
sum up gay life in the XXth century.
Born in Germany in 1920, Flinsch was in
the army during the war when he was caught kissing another man. His rich and
influent family probably helped him escape death in the concentration camps, but
he had a hard time in various detention places, including a mine for criminals.
He survived, and found employment as a theater designer before emigrating to
Canada in 1953 to be with his then-lover, a professional dancer. He spent a
large part of his career working for the television as a designer in Montréal,
not completely closeted since he was hardly the only non-straight person working
there, though his gay art was kept separated from his TV work. He regularly
filled his sketchbooks with snapshots from the gay scene and with portraits of
the very numerous moderls who posed for him. This book includes more than a
hundred drawings and paintings from the early sixties until now, which means
it's only a fraction of the art Flinsch has produced over five decades.
only the second book to feature Flinsch's art, after the 1995 Der Mann in
der Kunst Band 4 (Man in Art Vol. 4), from gay German
publisher Janssen Verlag. This 48-page, black and white collection (with
very few text, all in German, English and French) is a nice complement to the
new book, since no material is duplicated between the two. As an aside, this
series, which had 6 volumes, offered a nice view of various gay artists and is
worth looking for, especially the first book, about Jean Boullet.
go back to Flinsch's work. The shortest description I can give of his style is
that it's somewhere in the vicinity of Jean Cocteau's and David Hockney's works.
Flinsch certainly doesn't work in a single style, even when one looks at the
drawings of a certain period. He seems able to convey very clearly a
musculature, a body gesture, and is a keen observer of the male body. A
good number of his drawings are also concerned with scenes from the gay life, in
bars, saunas, in the streets, etc. His sense of humor is present throughout the
book, with the way he portrays interactions between gay men or with the short
comments and titles he ascribes to his work. His drawings (and the few paintings
and sculptures that are included in the book) are sensual but never simply
Here is a small gallery to show you the variety of works (the
last one is from the Janssen book):
You can find more
about this artist on his website (with lots of galleries), and the book is available at
Amazon, as is the Janssen book.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009
My Brain Hurts Vol. 2
In the second and last part of My Brain Hurts, Liz
Baillie continues the tale of Kate and Joey.
At the end of the
previous part, Joey was just coming out of a coma after a gay bashing, while
Kate had quarreled with her girlfriend and was being pursued by Nathan, one of
the boys who'd bashed Joey.
The whole cast leads an unstable life that's
often complicated by their sexual identity (most of the kids depicted are either
queer or bi); or more exactly, by their trying to find a way to live this
identity, since both Kate and Joey are fine with not being straight.
Alongside Nathan, the "token" straight guy of the series, Baillie also
introduces a few other secondary characters, such as a couple of girlfriends of
Kate, as well as a boyfriend for Joey, whom he meets at an elite school where
he's enrolled for a time (he's a very intelligent boy, but his intelligence
doesn't serve him in his daily life).
Liz Baillie's art has come a long way since the beginning of the series,
which took her six years to complete. It now presents fully-realized characters
and backgrounds, with an expressiveness that a lot of more seasoned cartoonists
might envy her.
All those young people make what we, as
adults, might call mistakes, but the author never lectures her characters or her
audience, she only chronicles those lives, showing the consequences of those
mistakes but also leaving doors open. That being said, it's rather heartbreaking
to see a character like Joey making mistake after mistake because he can't trust
people who've betrayed him time and again, to the point where he doesn't trust
his own friends anymore. And the further you read, the more you feel that Joey
isn't going to end up with a good life. But the whole point of the series is to
show how young people survive adolescence and build varied lives for themselves.
That point is made with the coda to the book, where we learn what kind of adult
life each character is living, a poignant study in non-conformity and paths
chosen or ignored.
You can follow Liz Baillie's work on her website, where you can read previews of My Brain
Hurts and buy it signed by the author. The book is also available from Amazon.
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