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Peter Flinsch: The Body In Question
My Brain Hurts Vol. 2



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Entries for December 2009:
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Thursday, December 31, 2009
Blog review
If you don't see the images of a review, it means that I've transferred it to the new site.

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Peter Flinsch: The Body In Question

Category: erotica, illustration.
Author(s): Peter Flinsch.
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.
the Janssen bookThis is 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.
But let's 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 photographic.
Here is a small gallery to show you the variety of works (the last one is from the Janssen book):

A 2001 drawing A 1976 work A 1993 bar scene 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
Review update
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My Brain Hurts Vol. 2

Author(s): Liz Baillie.

coverIn 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.

Joey can't even trust Kate anymoreAll 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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