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Monday 12 May 2008

Mitchell's A to Z of Fetish Artists - R J Blake (revised 2019)

RJ Blake - Nut Grappling

Much of R J Blake's work is not for the faint hearted, but his depictions of men are excellent. Square jawed and rugged, with muscular bodies sporting just enough hair, they are superbly masculine and sexy. In the example shown above a man grapples with a restrained captive in an encounter bristling with passion and danger. Faint details hint at other ideas and elaborations discarded or left unsaid.
A good example of his style.

(All the picture titles in this article have been assigned by me)

RJ Blake - Restrained Man
The craggy face and hairy torso of this man recalls Palanca's Latino men but there's none of their cheerfulness and fun in this picture. This character studies his own erection as though it were a source of discomfort rather than pleasure. His tousled, dangling hair suggests involvement in sweaty action which has yet to reach it's climax. The disappearing arms suggest his hands are tied, telling us he is not in control of the situation and creating a very open pose which highlights the vulnerability of that formidable organ.

RJ Blake - Deflated

Whilst Blake has a talent for portraying mature men, he's equally adept at depicting younger ones. There's a similar sense of dismay in this man's face, underlined by his drooping quiff which is matched by an equally drooping (and lovingly detailed) cock. Although the cause of his deflation is unseen we can see that his wrists are bound together behind his back, a simple restraint that renders him totally defenceless, masculinity tamed.

RJ Blake - Tight
A different take on youthfulness here. This man's neatly coiffured head hair and faint 'designer' chin stubble would give him a sophisticated, worldly look when fully clothed. Stripped of that a fleshiness and prolific body hair is revealed, a quite different, 'untamed' look that calls out for correction. (Similar qualities can be seen in seemingly related figure featured in the preview for this revised article),

The bondage here is cruelly tight, strangulating even in places - but the young man's libido is clearly not intimidated by it, unlike his predecessor above. Some folk do this for fun! There's the faintest suggestion that Blake considered a noose-like extension as well, but he's clearly less interested in the mechanics of the rope above the waist. I cannot work out exactly what is happening at the back of his neck, is that a hand reaching in?

This image showing just the head and front of the torso is typical of much of Blake's work concentrating totally on the focus of his interest. Where a fuller body view is shown, as in 'Deflated' above, it's liable to be bare outlines outside the key erotic area. 

RJ Blake - Whipped
Whips are often perceived as punishing the victim with cuts and skin pain like spanking. In this image Blake captures the full, jarring, smack of the lash and shows the captive's physical and erotic response. He shows little interest in other elements of the scene - he barely hints at the prisoner's restraint and shows nothing of his attacker. 

For once the captive is shown clothed (well partly). This is an army uniform and that's one of the few forms of clothing Blake ever shows*. Although he was still publishing work as recently as 2010, he was most active in the 70's in the wake of Vietnam, Korea and WWII, so this military interest (sometimes overtly depicting POW tortures) is not entirely surprising. His pictures were published in Drummer at that time but there's little sense of a controlled S&M leather dungeon ritual in them. It's uncomfortably real sometimes.

  (*There is actually a hint of sagging trouser showing in the first image of this article but it's clearly not an important detail to the artist).

RJ Blake - Hooked
There's an even sharper focus on the prisoner's feelings in this image. Probably not a fishing accident! It's a beautiful study of action and reaction. The tension in the cord finds a direct echo in the corded veins of the subject's neck. His knotted brows and rivulets of perspiration underline his efforts to endure the pain and threat of injury in a calm, manly fashion, as befits his handsome features. Even the spiky-looking body hair seems to speak of inner stress. The characteristic quiff and curled hair at the nape of the neck form the ends of a curve that pulls his head down towards the wicked, tugging hook. The overall look of this image reminds me very much of the work of Rex.

Blake's wispy, insubstantial lines contribute a nightmarish, 'is-this-really-happening?' flavour to his pictures and you can glimpse it here, but in other examples it's neutralised or lost altogether by well-meaning but clumsy contrast and sharpening enhancements, driven mainly by the limitations of viewing art on modern monitor screens. There's a prime example below.

RJ Blake - Tension
Blake elaborates on the hooking theme here, possibly inspired by the ritual suspension scene in the 1970 movie 'A Man Called Horse'.  Indeed, the less defined detail suggests this could be an example of a Native American 'trial by fire', which is another of Blake's areas of interest. (see also Sergey)

His depictions frequently show men throwing off copious bodily juices (of all descriptions) in their plight. This is a foretaste of Mike Carcel's modern day obsessions, although the frenetic struggling shown here is at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum from the eerie, disturbing, calm resignation that pervades Carcel's images - victims and persecutors alike.

RJ Blake - Sulky
 I'm closing with this, almost vanilla piece, partly for underwear fans, who get two for the price of one if you look closely, but also because it's an image that reads quite differently when you understand Blake's motivations and dark intentions. I can't show examples of his more demanding pictures in this forum but suffice to say that they usually involve sharp implements more than they do rope. In Blake's imagination, this innocent-looking young man, who is probably a soldier and probably a captive, faces that fate. His sober face and bulging underpants present a Ying and Yang of anxiety and excitement. 

RJ Blake - Riding The Samurai Wedge
Blake's art with it's economical subject matter and sketchy style is at the opposite end of the artistic spectrum to someone like Homoeros, although they tread similar paths. Blake pushes the boundaries of S&M in the same discomforting way that Dante did. His heroes are attractively drawn and oozing with masculine qualities that almost define 'homoerotic'. That makes even his least fetish-y pictures well worth a look.. 

Having said that, it's hard to find even innocuous examples of his work on the web. I can only direct you to the good old stalwart GMBA which seems to have resurfaced from a period of suspension by Google. Ask there if you can't find anything listed (the archives get zapped from time to time). The latest link I have for GMBA (it moves around sometimes) is in the sidebar towards the bottom.

This article was expanded and revised in March 2019 (ref1407) 

 For other A-Z articles click on the label below or visit my index of artists


Anonymous said...

Any further info on this guy? He seems to have disappeared into the ether.

Mitchell said...

He is still drawing and publishes stuff from time to time. No website as far as I know at present. He posted a couple of pictures at GMBA in September 2009. You will find them and earlier posts in the archive there (Link in sidebar)