featured gallery for December 2006

The Male Portrait

When approaching the Visual AIDS slide library, I thought it best to approach it with an idea in mind. This is a large archive and approaching it with a more specific theme seemed reasonable to me. One theme that I am strongly drawn to is portraiture. It is a constant and very important focus of my own work, thus choosing portraiture felt like a natural choice to me.

More specifically, I am attracted to images of masculinity and male sexuality -- so I wanted to use this opportunity to select a diverse group of portraits whose subject matter was the representation of men.

The images I have selected are of men both young and old. They are in many different stages in their life. Some are looking at themselves through self-portraiture and others are the object of someone elses eye. The experience that I see that binds these disparate men is the thoughtfulness of their gaze. There is a self-presentation amongst many of them that conveys a relaxed "here I am" manner. This for instance is seen in the body language of both Rob Anderson's and Loreen Bryant's Mexican Fervor.

These portraits elicit both a range of emotional responses in me and a reading of the emotional state of the subjects pictured. In some cases these feelings may overlap as my attraction to some of the images manifests itself on a physical level as with Vincent Cianni's portrait of the confident adolescent Johnny posing shirtless with his birthday cake. There is Robert Blanchon's beautiful, street-artist commissioned charcoal self-portrait, which is both vibrant and dreamy. And George Towne's lovely and lanky Slava. I feel warmth and camaraderie from Albert J. Winn's portrait of a couple on a porch holding a frying pan, from his Radical Faerie Series. I feel mild confrontation from Tara Popick's Untitled elderly man holding onto railing, and I sense tension in Tim McCarron's Luis who is grasping a chair.

The men portrayed in many of these portraits are not the in-your-face, chiseled, lean-bodied or muscled bodybuilder types that men are so often today bombarded with from advertising, television and gay erotica. These men are a more subtle, quiet and real-life, day-to-day image of maleness. And, in the case of Frederick Weston's Richard XII, a more flamboyant and celebratory version.

These portraits are all of individuals, and let us not forget that the millions of victims and sufferers of HIV and AIDS are individuals -- not statistics, nor political tools, but once and now living, breathing human beings. It is to them that I dedicate this web gallery.