Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Art review – In-sex

The birds & bee's knees

Ballin'. Troy Phillips's photos are part of In-Sex.

In-Sex, the group exhibition currently at Spin Gallery, is dedicated to sex-positive perversion. Curator Juno Youn had the rather daunting task of merging 22 participating artists into one space, where each artist approached the subject of sex in divergent and, in some cases, very unusual ways. Using both traditional and new media, the exhibition zeroes in on the tactile nature of sex: its smoothness, stickiness and depth of colour.

Artist Ab Ovo’s small sculpture looks unassuming at first, but close up, the ostrich egg with rubber and metal looks like the latest thing in bondage gear. Its slick style and naughty sensibility is so evocative that it takes (pardon the pun) restraint not to fondle it. Tucked in a corner of the gallery are embellished photographs of 18th-century portraits, where artist Patrick DeCoste reveals a de Sade-esque passion for feces. Across an image of a young boy being spanked Edwardian script states, “It is no longer enough to eliminate and separate shit into its solids and liquid components, to flush and disinfect it. Now, shit has become profitable.” Appropriately, the piece is for sale for a mere $400.

A large-scale inverted photograph shows a Parisian street corner with a sex shop and pharmacy beside each other. The adjacent buildings act not only as neighbours but suggest the artist Francesco Pignatelli’s vision of condoms, wet naps, porn and poppers as functioning hand in hand.

There are several works in particular to look for in this enormous show. Kris Knight’s drawings of young boys in tighty-whities and tube socks, legs banging against each other, Mark Ciale’s Robert Crumb-like drawings, Troy Phillips’s photographs of hot Asian fags, John McLachlin’s Homme Fatal and Derek Manella’s gorgeous painting of a Ms Foxy Brown-type goddess. Fierce and sexy as hell.

While there are several artists whose work deserves to be mentioned, the paintings by Peter Wilde get the last word. Twelve intimate paintings with large masonite frames use skilled brush strokes and clean earth-tone palettes. Each picture is beautifully reproduced from on-line gay porn sites into painterly images. Wilde takes the overtly familiar, even tired, imagery and creates something fresh. His young boy paintings are subversive enough to keep a critical viewer engaged, yet are striking enough to be proudly displayed in any queer home.