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the exhibit

Although the male nude is a standard subject in art, the image of the sexually aroused male is not.  In fact, the male erection is often absent in museums, galleries and art magazines.  The only time that a male erection is allowed to be part of an art show is when it is clearly labelled as homosexual art as in the case of the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and the drawings of Tom of Finland among others.


But if we consider art as a representation of reality, then the very notion of subject exclusion, for whatever reason, has no place in this arena.  And yet a taboo persists in the art community.  Even though explicit homosexual imagery is widely available on the internet, it is deemed unsuitable as a subject for painting or drawing.  Why are artworks that show man to man intimacy labelled strictly as gay art?  Why can’t it just be art if art is truly about depicting the human experience?  


I have always been partial to images of stocky older men.  Other than Japanese manga and old prints and sculptures from so-called pagan cultures, I’ve never really seen sexually aroused older men rendered in an artful way in more contemporary paintings or drawings.  As I have always had these images in my head, I ended up teaching myself, over the course of many years, how to paint and draw so that I can have in my possession art works that museums and galleries refuse to show to the public. 


Since this is the first time I’m presenting my paintings and drawings publicly,  I am aware that some people may find these images unsettling.  This is understandable because we are really conditioned to reject any kind of stimulus that stray from what is considered polite, correct and acceptable.  But provocation has always been inherent in art.  It demands that we open ourselves to things that we are unaccustomed too and even risk censure from those who demand strict conformist thinking.   


As homosexuality is a big part of the cultural landscape, this presentation is a modest attempt at encouraging people to set aside their conditioned aversion to depictions of homosexual intimacy and try to see the creativity In the artworks presented.

Manny Reyes

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