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Message updated 25th June 2023

Thursday 19 November 2009

Mitchell's A-Z of Fetish Artists - Kaarlo

I don't know a lot about Kaarlo (I believe the name is Finnish) but the style of his pictures suggests the 1970/80's. Those I have in my collection are mostly dungeon scenes in which 'leather men' appear to be subjecting innocent-looking acolytes to demanding initiations. The pictures are carefully detailed with authentic-looking backgrounds and the leather men dressed in full regalia.
There is a sense of real action conveyed by writhing bodies and facial expressions. 

The flowing hairstyles and willowy, totally naked bodies of the initiates unmistakeably mark them as outsiders or novices when contrasted with the leather garb of their mentors. The Afro hairstyle and exotic moustache worn by this one (not to mention his jolly smile!) doesn't exactly suggest a dominant personality to modern eyes. It's a fashion born of the flower power era, but a contemporary viewer would (for example) reference the TV character of Jason King (ca 1970) played by Peter Wyngarde. His spy had a similar flamboyant appearance but also a disturbing combination of sickly charm with a penchant for ruthless violence.

This depiction of a wild S&M scene stars another Afro character who actually appears to black, unlike the leather man in the previous example. He's wearing a skimpy thong and corset-like belt that have a hint of femininity about them, but there's no doubting his masculinity in Kaarlo's depiction, even if you disregard his aggressive enactment of the ritual. It's quite a remarkable and attractive cameo.

The blindfolding leather hood in Kaarlo's work is a striking and slightly sinister symbol of domination but the prisoner restraint here, though spectacular is relatively modest. 
Fashions aside this scene is really quite timeless.

 More suspension and hooding in this picture but I've included it not so much for it's merits as a fetish picture, as for the 'flying' top ingredient. That's an image that is also featured in other well-known pictures: 'Time Out' by Ulf and 'Athlete' by Zamok. This manifestation suggests that the source inspiration is considerably older than I for one had ever imagined. 

The butcher's block and meat suspension rails are somewhat unsettling elements in this picture but the leather 'Master' looks like a regular guy-next-door. He probably won't have much energy left for nastiness after 15 minutes raising and lowering the lucky devil who's getting his oats here.

I'm surprised that this W-shaped restraint platform hasn't been adopted by the S&M community, combining as it does the arm spreading capability of a cross with an unusual ass-revealing, leg separating, ankle fixing and all in a compact design that can easily be stored between visitors. 

Visually, the tapering shape and sub's arm spread create a cup/bowl-like receptor into which the dom lowers himself for cleansing. It's quite a powerful composition. The irons heating up in the brazier behind them cast a darker shadow over these simple pleasures. For me this picture captures the essential connection with danger and dark sex which makes leather so alluring.

Kaarlo - Robinson Crusoe 1 (Shipwrecked)
 I can't leave Kaarlo without a mention of his 'Robinson Crusoe' series of 12 pictures 
charting the famous traveller's (trouserless!) ship-wreck. 

In his explorations of the island , he stumbles on a couple of locals who are intent on humiliating a fellow villager. Crusoe too is captured by them and both undergo suspension and whipping
(not dissimilar to the imagery above!).

Crusoe eventually escapes with his new friend, only to discover that the ship that has appeared in the bay is stuffed with young pirates who are very excited by the new arrivals.

Kaarlo's images aren't great art but they have a vitality and inventiveness that amply makes up for the technical weaknesses.

Sorry no link info but a search of the GMBA archives (link in sidebar) will probably turn up more examples

Readers are welcome to contribute their own comments - even if they differ from mine!
For earlier examples in this series click on the A-Z label below

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