Rick Hard - Branding Dungeon
From Rickard to Rick Hard (aka Rick Von Sodom I believe). This torture tableau is a good example of his work. The fascist uniforms and the array of crude torture weapons on the side table would have been more chilling in their day than they are now. The participants are rather disconnected and look out at us as though caught in the act or posing for the artist - perhaps the cruellest torture of all! I don't think I've featured a branding picture before but I wouldn't recommend this as a guide to technique, branding a captive on the buttocks while he's tied to a post is one of life's more impractical tasks. Perhaps that's why he seems to have applied his brand upside down! I like the aproned slave feeding fuel to the furnace and being aroused by the second guard's whip sliding between his ass-cheeks, note the guard's penis-shaped cap.
Rick Hard's style is fairly basic but the rendering of the faces and the uniform detailing show a hand not devoid of talent. The subtlety of his shading has been washed out of this scan (above) and is better in the other pictures below. The Nazi style uniforms and facial style suggest a date around Tom of Finland's heyday, in fact the prisoner tied to the post is very reminiscent of Tom's 1963 image in which an engineer is also tied to a telegraph pole by bikers (below). There's a touch of 1960's Luger in the legs-up pose of the right hand guard too.
Tom of Finland - Engineer Tied To Post (1963)
Rick Hard - Indoor Animal
The black humour lurking in Branding Dungeon can also be seen in this rather expressive picture of a prisoner awkwardly tied to the foot of a (neatly-made!) bed. Men in humiliating domestic predicaments feature in other pictures by Rick Hard too.
Rick Hard - Tryptich
Back to the dungeon. This guard is a caricature with a cruel almost feminine face thanks to the almond-shaped eyes and strange peaked cap. His body is muscular but that takes second place to the prominent billowing uniform, all carefully detailed, even the piped edges are shown on the gloves and boots. The muscular young prisoner is lovingly drawn using a curious shading technique which suggests body hair in places but also recalls depictions of blood vessels and nerve paths in anatomical drawings and it's all slightly disturbing. In the final section his beauty disappears and he becomes gaunt and agonised under the guard's torment. I'm not sure if this is erotic or a moral tale.
Rick Hard - Crop Licker
Finally a guard descends into the dungeon and holds out his crop for the grovelling, naked prisoner to kiss. The guard's casual hand-in-pocket pose shows he is in total control and has no fear of being attacked. It's a simple but rather effective depiction of casual intimidation and fearful submission. In the context of the other drawings showing torture scenarios it's all the more threatening but fortunately the penis-shaped cap reveals the true purpose of the encounter.
Rick Hard doesn't have the most developed of techniques but he does have a knack for capturing erotic domination. I don't have a site for Rick Hard and would welcome information from readers.
For other articles in this series click on the A-Z label below or use the search box to find a specific artist