This evening I attended a vernissage at The Atlantic Gallery on W28th Street. They are presenting a group show called S-7 (The Sunday Seven) and it involves among the seven artists a certain Robert Fontanelli who is an acquaintance of ours. Following the invitation is one of Robert's pieces.
Robert’s work is articulate. Punchy. Robust. Chaud-comique. (You may recall the video I made of his birthday party at the Zipper Factory.) He’s a strangely dirty little boy who has, in this show, neatly deflowered my reverence for mid-century modern furniture. He’s comtemplating the actual construction of two of his renderings. I am particularly fond of another piece of his called “Horny Sailor Nite Stand” that you will find on his website, and I pine for the day when it is fabricated, mass-produced and available at IKEA.
Here's the boy himself, although for some reason, my camera chose to adjust the coloring of the moment. His hat is actually kelly green. Even with Photoshop, I can't rectify this unless I falsely retint everything. I tried.
I liked 90% of this show which is, for me, an amazing statistic. Some of the pieces were sniffingly stylish to the point of somnambulism. Poses in which the model can almost be heard to quietly burp up the fumes of burnt poppy. The best of the lot were Robert’s and those of Richard Rosenfeld.
I am once again reminded of the impossible task of defining the pornographic. Here is a room full of depictions of attractive male bodies with sexual parts intact and sometimes prominent. These images, while sexually charged, are not pornographic. A pornographic effort has to have some seizure of the viewer, an undertow, a granting of what had been denied, a forced surrender, a quickening of the heart, and the “little death”, or at least its promise. There has to be a collaring. A grappling. A ramping-up. These images are leisurely even when they smolder. Also, pornography is rarely stylized (not that it can’t be – witness some Joe Gage films) for there’s almost no reason to go beyond the relentless lighting, the clear and flat focus, the believable skin tones.
Pornography is by nature wasteful. It is driven to scoop out the very center of the melon, casting aside whole edible sections. It is blind to the outer rings of its target. Maybe it is simply that pornography is a tool. It is functional rather than ornamental. I don’t know. I suppose in this world there’s somebody who will whack off to a picture of almost anything, and that would make me terrifically wrong about all this, wouldn’t it? I don’t much care, but I’d rather like to draw as well as some of The Sunday Seven.