Mahoney's work is very simply summed up - the crucifixion of naked men. Within this narrow field he explores the detailed process by which this form of torture and execution is carried out.
The proceedings are nearly always seen from a distance, often looking down over the heads of the spectators. The reactions of the victims as the punishment proceeds - fear, horror, pain, despair - are portrayed quite well within the limitations of the drawing's scale but naturally they don't have the same impact as Mack's more intimate close-ups.
Apart from facial expressions, the victim's reactions are self contained for the most part and we are simply witnessing the effects of a punishment sanctioned by the community (sometimes evidenced by the presence of uniformed executioners or plaques naming the victim's crime). The settings are detached from our reality, showing arid landscapes and walled cities, sometimes Roman soldiers and men in turbans are present. This biblical setting may be simply intended to give realism or perhaps suggest that the victim has met an undeserved but inevitable fate.
Although they are naked, he usually does not depict his victims in an overtly erotic way. They may be young or mature but their bodies are thin and wiry so the rib cages and breast bones and the muscles of the legs for example are clearly visible. In the absence of close-ups there is no visual sensuality. We are not invited to glory in the destruction of the beautiful man or sympathise with their suffering.
The example shown above is a bit of an exception, the victim's unruly hair suggests a villainous character while the shading of his muscular body gives it volume and sexuality. He struggles to escape, shaking the whole cross. The spittle flying from his mouth suggests belligerent defiance or panic. The soldiers look on with contemptuous, casual interest.
Mahoney does sometimes suggest an erotic intention, the victim's clothes shown being removed, being impaled by his rectum or showing a twitch of sexual arousal but in general the pictures are concerned with portraying a process which cannot be experienced in real life and the eroticism is left to the viewer's leanings.
There's a good selection of his work at the MCR Group
To see earlier posts in this series click A-Z in the label list below