Saturday, 4 July 2015
Ulf Retrospective - 2003
Ulf - Time Out
As far as my taste is concerned, 2003 was a good year for Ulf and this picture is one of the highlights of it. I suspect there's a photographic basis for the figure, which is exceptionally convincing given the ambitious viewpoint. Ulf's success is to place him in a remote, overgrown corner of a prison or barracks to suffer alone for his misdemeanour (or 'repent at leisure' as the euphemism has it). In this naked, vulnerable state even the trailing vegetation creeping down the wall acquires on a sinister air and the shadowing of the corner create the illusion that there's a deep drop beneath him if he should contemplate escaping.
Ulf - High Tension
Predicament Bondage is one of Ulf's particular interests and this brilliant image seems to have been bred from the same back-breaking inspiration as the first example above. However, you can see that in this case the details of the restraint arrangements have been entirely conjured from the imagination.
The graceful, curving line of the captive's body is both artistic and erotic and the angling of the extended anal post (holding him at full stretch) cuts across that curved line quite sharply, suggesting awkwardness and discomfort even before you think through what is happening. It looks oddly improvised though.
The cantilevered board on which the subject is balanced adds a nice element of precariousness to the whole predicament. This ambitious design would pose a serious construction challenge to the average DIY
leather queen dungeon master. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the close proximity of the ground mitigates the danger of collapse, only those dangling balls would really suffer. Which is to say that the visible closeness of the ground underneath him (and the far wall too) lessens the dramatic suspense compared with the first image.
Ulf - Unrestrained Guard (not Ulf's title?)
The misuse of power by authority figures is often a subject for gay fantasies but usually it's the Police who are depicted in this way and you will see numerous examples in this blog if you click on the 'Cops' label in the sidebar. Ulf is more interested in the unrestrained power of Military officers and NCO's over their recruits. It's a theme that recurs frequently in his work and this is one of his more polished examples. This striking image is a reworking of one of Etienne's pictures from the series 'Navy Grease' (shown below). Ulf's version lacks his abundance of military (naval) iconography but is rather more successful in conveying the enviable masculinity of the 'top'. The representation of the figures and the interweaving of their limbs has the same impressive, high degree of realism as the pictures above. There are some disturbing elements to this image including the intimidating use of the gun of course but also the jerrycan lurking in the corner (although this may simply be an comical allusion to 'refueling').
Etienne - Navy Grease 05
The inspiration for Ulf's picture above, this series contained some of Etienne's best drawing.
Ulf - Beg For It
A fairly well known piece which suggests it's popular. Jerking off a man who is restrained and cock-tied is a basic fetish fantasy and Ulf's image is simple and direct, which helps make it memorable. We've drifted away from the photo-realism of the preceding pictures (note for example the over-exaggerated neck/shoulder muscles on the right) but Ulf's depiction of the hand encircling the cock actually out-does most photographs with a tremendous sense of space and volume which captures the tingly dramatic 'moment' of that sensual enclosure!).
The captive man is shown astride a 'horse'. It's not clear if he is tied to it, but it's intrusion between his legs and his balls resting on the top are part of the attraction of the picture. This qualifies as 'Riding The Wedge' I guess, although the flat-top is a beginners grade only.
Ulf - Bad Boi
Ulf does plenty of spanking images but this is the first one I have included in my selections. It's a nicely balanced composition forming an triangular arrow shape pointing to the left which parallels the direction of the movement in the picture and also symbolises the psychological dominance of the spanker and (one might suppose) the penetration to follow, if the poster on the wall is anything to go by.
The willowy flow of the spanker's body is not untypical of Ulf's work, artfully posed and pleasant but it does also convey a sense that he is winding up and means business. His slender, youthful appearance contrasts with the chunkier shape and earthier features of the submissive, kneeling man, unexpectedly reversing the roles you might expect them to take. The carefully contrived interlacing of his feet and cock with the bed end provides an extra element of humiliation (and punishment?) for him.
Ulf's title is less helpful than usual in interpreting the scene. The kit bag maybe suggests a return from leave and a buddy caught out. It doesn't seem to be an abuse of power scenario - unlike the next picture.
The triumph of age and experience over youthful enthusiasm and innocence is less of a foregone conclusion in the modern age than in past times and has become a tricky subject for fantasies too. You won't find any political correctness in this picture and placing it in a civilian context rather than a military one makes that even more apparent, but you have to give Ulf credit here for creating an overweight slob who is not entirely unattractive and a power situation that is erotic for both young and old alike. It looks like there's a time challenge here that is being failed - to the embarrassment of the hapless, new employee. One of Ulf's less-than-subtle signs on the door implies there's another 'part' down on his rota for servicing this morning.
Ulf - Red Neck Party
The storyline of Campers caught up in something nasty in the woods has some pretty grim, cinematic antecedents (including 'Deliverance' and 'The Blair Witch Project' for example) not to mention the entire Greasetank oeuvre of cruel, marauding bikers. These works use the remoteness from civilisation or from any source of help when in the wilderness to generate suspense and horror. Ulf's picture therefore acquires a sinister tone by association from the outset, posing the question, where is this going to end? His clever evocation of a sunny, summer evening (or sunrise) bathing the scene in pleasant, warm light may be intended to dispel this chain of thought - or is it an ironic mockery of the nature-loving campers?
These red necks seem well versed in the ways of the gay fetish scene but although the campers are sharing a tent it's not clear where they stand in that department. Anyway, they seem to be coping. I suppose you might speculate about who owns the sneakers and who the boots, which seem to contrast two, entirely different lifestyles. I've chosen this image for it's originality in story-telling and it's amusing use of iconic Ulf objects scattered around - Bud bottle, oil lamp etc.
Ulf - AWOL Bound To Serve
Ulf has a great fondness for military settings but this Hospital variation is unusual. In the absence of visible injuries to the patient it appears to be a Clinic for Punishment and Thought Correction which is quite mitchmen-esque, hence it's inclusion here. It's the situation that makes this image interesting, the AWOL soldier is sucked back (!) into the ruthlessly, exploitative military machine, handcuffed to the bed to ensure his compliance and his horror is as obvious as his sexual excitement. The erotic 'predicament' here arises not so much from his physical bondage as the institutional captivity to which he is being subjected.
There is quite a big difference in technical style between these last two 'story-telling' images and the more artistic, realistic ones at the start of this article. The doll-like soldier is a world apart from those predicament captives and together with the underwear-clad orderly(?) provides an interesting progress report on the depiction of clothing in Ulf's pictures.
Ulf - I Know What You Need
I can only be describe this picture as a study in vanity, arrogance and contempt, underlined by the self-justifying, porn-inspired title. This self-important Marine has not even undressed to service his partner and despite the trickle of piss there is really no emotional connection between the two men. At this moment he isn't even looking at him but chooses to pose on an ammunition box in a self-consciously masculine manner for our benefit - inadvertently revealing a craving for admiration of his ample physical attractions that apparently he has been unable to earn from the men around him - at least to a degree that satisfies him. (The calandar on the wall perhaps is indicative of his lack of popularity!)
The latest recipient of his juices seems to epitomise that unsatisfying response, unsurprisingly perhaps given the humiliating treatment he is getting. He is totally passive, detached and disinterested, modestly concealing his organ (with a truly classical pose) and turning away as if he is itching to leave. Perhaps he's here under duress or has had enough maybe, exhausted by the use made of him or just plain drunk.
It's possible to read and enjoy this picture simply as a classic humiliation scene. Maybe that is all Ulf intended to portray. But for me it is rather too successful in mining that vein and the absence of any signs of accompanying lust (or pleasure) removes the eroticism. Perhaps we should have arrived 5 minutes ago! As it stands, it turns into a rather bleak reading of casual sex and impaired affections in an invented gay community, that is uncomfortably (and perhaps unintentionally) authentic.
In this essentially straight-forward picture Ulf demonstrates his growing maturity as an artist. The 'in-line' arrangement of the figures and the balancing of their knee-bent postures facing in different directions is cohesive and visually satisfying as well as servicing the narrative. His treatment of clothing here is the best we have seen in these articles so far.
(To read these articles from the beginning start with Ulf Retrospective part 1 )
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.