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(Feb 18th 2018)

Monday, 25 May 2015

Ulf retrospective - The Year 2001

 My Ulf selections for the year 2000 showed influences from the wider artistic world on his work and that can also be seen in the balletic restraint of the prisoner in these two memorable images from 2001. His pointing toes, vainly seeking the supporting solidity of the floor create a tremendous sense of tension and body stretching. But it is only by flexing his arms that the prisoner can relieve the upwards counter-pull on his nipples. You can almost hear his grunting as his strength begins to fail. Meanwhile his captor is free to examine his unprotected tackle. And there's worse to come.

(There's a backwards look to the dramatic initiation scene from 'A Man Called Horse' (1970) in this pec suspension arrangement).

 The helpless, stretched rigidity of the prisoner, vainly arching away from the punishing blows is a disturbingly irresistible target. Ulf embellishes his buttocks and legs with highlighting that underlines both his erotic attractions and his impotent muscularity. The captor leans back, lazily almost, flexing his legs to transmit the power of his entire body into each leisurely stroke. It's a stock, beefcake pose in essence, but the skill with which Ulf has incorporated it into his image is impressive, creating a suggestion of calculating, frightening malice that goes way beyond routine dungeon play.

 The menace in this image is more melodramatic in style, invoking a medieval dungeon complete with bizarre candelabra. The threat this time is posed by a crouching, beast-like creature straight out of the movies. His whip is probably less intimidating than his low-dangling balls, a motif that is ominously echoed in the large rock attached to the captive's scrotum, as though hinting that this condition is ultimately required of him too. 

Our victim here seems suitably naive and innocent, a sort of male equivalent of Faye Wray. He may have a muscular body and virile chest mat, but there's a distinctly boyish flavour about his characterisation. I like the way the demon's machinations have invaded the private recesses of his conventional white underwear rather than dispensing with it altogether.

You can see how Ulf experiments with light and shadow in these pictures attempting to create dramatic atmosphere. Dispatching the bondage and cbt detail to the back of the picture shows a similar desire to create something more psychological than mere erotic porn. The undefined area under the beast's right arm shows that his technique is still growing.

 There's more evidence of developing technique here in the unconventional view-point and free form composition in which both men seem to float, simultaneously upright and horizontal.
The mesmerised face of the supplicant and the sensuous detailing of the dribbling pre-cum in the middle ground and swollen cock head beyond it is riveting.

In this picture Ulf's faces begin to evolve in a more characterful way, softer and more human. There's an element of caricature on the left but it's intriguing trying to read these expressions which have a sense of earnest duty, possibly dismay, rather than enthusiasm for their shared task. This subtle complexity and the darkened background is almost worthy of an Old Master. I think the attachment of the cock to it's owner could be more subtle, a slight curve to the left as it recedes might accentuate the sense of intrusion but it's an interesting image.

 There's more experimentation with viewpoints and lighting here. It's not surprising to see Ulf exploring the possibilities of fisting but the low key, less than graphic depiction here is rather unexpected. The striking feature of this picture, however, is the knife. It contrasts startlingly with the relaxed poses of the participants but in fact the picture is called 'Night Caller'. And it seems he brought his Crisco with him. Other pictures from this time also show discarded weaponry.

 As weapons go, this one is pretty scary too as witness the one captive's horrified expression and the splayed fingers of his partly-seen companion. We saw another red hot poker in the 2000 selection, but it's threat is a lot less subtle here. However Ulf  refrains from giving more than a hint about where it's headed. This buddy bondage situation is pretty erotic in it's own right as a static image but one can imagine the butt rubbing induced by their attempts to escape that glowing shaft would be something else. (I'd watch out for that floor too with a red hot poker around, it looks like vinyl!)

Ulf brings a ghoulish humour to this entertaining, buddy predicament scene and it's another ball stretching scenario. The torture depends on their continued struggling for it's effectiveness, so we must suppose that either these men are a bit slow on the uptake or else there's something nasty lurking in the shadows! There's a certain kinship here to the suspension images which opened this post.

Continued with The Frontier Series (2001)

Ulf has a blog The Ulfian which is an interesting mix of his art, political comment and selected porn.
There's also an Ulfian fan club on Google Groups which you have to join (it's free). 
The older Fan Club on Yahoo! Groups seems to be inactive now.
to be continued

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