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Wednesday 24 February 2016

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Verlato

Verlato - Hell Raiser

Verlato is not really a fetish artist in the conventional sense, nor is his art openly ‘gay’ but his amazing images are peppered with half naked, lean, muscular men in contorted poses that are supremely erotic. His hyper-realistic style is sensuous and draws you in to study the detail of pictures that are sometimes immensely complex. So complex in fact that his works are often carved up into ‘interesting’ segments for internet circulation.

Verlato - David
His art is sometimes described as surrealist but it’s more obviously influenced by the world of ‘Metal’ Pop Music with its self-conscious irony and the modern imagery of Hollywood car crashes and explosions which is now so commonplace that it surely doesn’t qualify as surreal any more. Verlato’s art is very much in your face and visually confusing - a million miles away from the calm and bleakly disturbing constructs of the original Surrealists.

Verlato - 'Enduring Freedom'

There seems to be an ill-defined political message in this picture and the contrast between the positioning of the men and women is intriguing. There’s absolutely no interaction between any of the characters here and yet there’s an obvious homo-eroticism that leaves you wanting more! I often bang on about clothing and it is very much a partner to nudity in Verlato’s art but generally baggy and devoid of suggestive moulding. Still I'm a sucker for a soldier! On the technical level, there’s a fabulous diagonal connection which links all of the characters together and it’s intersected by the gun-barrel of the tank which points the opposite way towards the object of their attention. 

Verlato - The Gardem
 The erotic message here is unambiguous. There’s even a glimpse of cock if you look closely. The invocation of nature and paradise, birds and bees seems to confer romantic respectability on what looks like a dubious, opportunist intervention in a youthful love affair. The glimpse of a second, identical but enlarged elbow through the hole in the wall suggests a double ‘coup’ of some sort. You can judge for yourselves what the significance is of the squirrel’s pose. Well, I said the art was confusing!

Verlato - Hooligans
 Verlato has done a whole series of images depicting ‘Hooligans’ fighting and his interest in physical conflict surfaces elsewhere too. That’s erotic in its own right for some but the diving waistline and suggestive backside of the attacker here (discreetly screened by smoke)  plus the arched, hand behind back vulnerability of his ‘victim’ add up to a statement that does not seem to be addressing  deprivation as a causal agent of social unrest.

Verlato - The Settler
The Martyrdom of St Sebastian is almost an S&M cliché, instantly recognisable, even when transplanted to North America. However, the only concession to such interest here is the placing of the lower arrows and the shadow cast by the one embedded in the settler’s lower abdomen. The glimpse of 'modernity' on a distant hill-top signals another message from the artist but the near nudity of the (barbarian?) attackers seems politically incorrect however you read it.

In this final image, Verlato’s exploration of the extreme is sanitised by transfiguring the victim into a hairy-legged satyr, which is a classical representation of male sexuality. The victim expires in picturesque fashion. The glass display cabinet and fascinated spectators make a statement about the hypocrisy of conventionality but also add a frisson of control,  that is erotic for those who have eyes to see.

I love the ‘feel’ and tantalising subject matter of Verlato’s art but confess that its political dimensions and social relevance usually elude me (which is probably my fault not his). The technical achievement in these large canvasses however is colossal. You will find much of interest on Verlato’s website but his art is easy to find in search engines too.

  For more articles in this series click on the A-Z label below or search for specific artists using the index page or search boxes (top right)

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