From delicate to hard, from painting, drawing and collage to photography and sculpture to installation, the works that are shown in ADULTS ONLY pick up and depict themes from erotic to pornographic.
The focus of ADULTS ONLY, the first group exhibition at Biesenbach Gallery in 2019, is a subject that could hardly be more human: the sensual body that has always fascinated its viewers. The artistic composition of the artworks reflects abysses and highlights of human sexuality and offers a journey through the current art scene, whose protagonists dedicate themselves in their presented works to the subject of sex.
Time and time again, the human body and its various ways of erotizing were and are being rediscovered and specifically charged for art. It was not only postmodernism that drew on Greek high art and Roman antiquity with its dramatic erotic motifs.
The works of our 10 contemporary artists in ADULTS ONLY tell a story of sex and sensuality in the history of human culture. The exhibition, which does not shy away from potentially objectionable footage, also assumes a certain explosiveness.
Sometimes the body is self-sufficient, resting, sometimes it is intertwined in the act of love, at times it even flares itself up to masturbation. The series “Cumfaces” by British photographer and filmmaker Stuart Sandford (*1978, lives and works in Los Angeles and London) shows exactly this: faces of young men at the moment of the self-induced climax.
Pornographic films serve French artist Rebecca Bournigault (*1970 in Colmar, lives and works in Paris) as a model for her sexually explicit watercolours, in which she portrays women – released from the original film setting – and thus stimulates reflection on the exploitation of the female body today.
With his photo series "STOFF, HAUT, BLICK" (“FABRIC, SKIN, GAZE”), Cologne-based artist Roland Schappert (*1965) takes up motifs from porn magazines and zooms almost voyeuristically in on detailed boundaries between garments and bodies. This suggests more or less clear individual moments and social situations. His photographs were originally shown in an exhibition project together with works by Stefan Römer at high-end fashion store città di bologna in Cologne in 1998. Digitalised/remastered for our “Adults Only” exhibition, Schappert’s photographs are reinterpreted for the first time as lightfast prints on Alu Dibond (edition of 8 copies each). In addition and in line with the exhibition’s midissage on 16 February, at 6 pm, the artist will present a performance of his own "SEXROMAN", a novel also published in 1998.
Back to the ancient Greek origin of the term "pornography" - derived and composed of πόρνη (pórnē, "prostitute") and γράφειν (gráphein, "write") - brings us Hamburg-based artist Viviane Gernaert (*1976 in Munich) with her interpretation of a “Kober” window: Only the prostitute is missing from her re-enactment of a brothel in the window of the gallery. Furthermore, her graphite drawings, based on David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”, explore a somewhat different kind of voyeurism than her “Kober” window.
Voyeurism plays a major role in the work of Dutch painter Jans Muskee(*1961 in Nieuw-Amsterdam, lives and works in Groningen). His oil pastels on paper show scenes, all life-size and lifelike, with adults only – or for adults only – who are entangled in bizarre constellations. Muskee ironically exposes the uptight concept of a morally intact suburb as a world of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The conservative sexual fantasies of the 1950s are targeted by German sculptor and painter Beate Höing (*1966, lives and works in Coesfeld). The artist uses nude nymph figures made of porcelain in her fragile sculptures of clay and other findings from porcelain and appropriates their delicate and naive eroticism in several firing processes.
Parisian artist Julien Comte-Gaz (*1987 in Australia) uses old (soft) pornographic photographs – sometimes dating back as far as to the 1920’s – and robs them of their "offensiveness" by delicately applied dot-drawings, pixel-like collages or meticulous lasercuts (as for example in his reappropriated Bunnies from the Playboys of the 1970/80s), therefore covering all sexual matters or simply cutting them out.
The tender-harmless, playful eroticism that emanates from Höing's nymphs and also shows through in Comte-Gaz's works, stands in stark contrast to Matt Lambert's sometimes very explicit photographs and films that have nothing in common with obsolete moral concepts. His work is an often hard-core, sex-infused and unapologetic celebration of gay sexuality. The Berlin-based artist (*1983 in Los Angeles), who has also worked for nearly all major fashion and lifestyle magazines, is best known for his LGBT community-related work. Lambert prefers to work with real porn actors and deals with topics such as youth and intimacy.
Also queer related is American Tom Bianchi’s photographic work, who devotes himself entirely to the act of men in his work. In more than 20 books with photographs, poems and essays already published, experiences of homosexual men are treated. The Polaroid series shown in ADULTS ONLY was originally created between 1975-83 (Bianchi was born in 1945, he lives and works in Palm Springs) and pays homage to the carefree, pre-AIDS lifestyle of the gay community at Fire Island Pines, Long Island, NY.
In his work, British photographer Bob Carlos Clarke, who died in 2006 and is also known as the British Helmut Newton, dedicates himself to the nude act as well, but this time around the female one. Clarke realizes erotic (male) fantasies and works with models, actresses and stars (the exhibition shows, for example, Academy Award winner Rachel Weizs in “For Dolls That Do Dishes”). His work, published in countless books and magazines, is synonymous with glamour, fetish and women's bodies.