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Saturday 12 March 2016

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Viste

Viste - 2 Palle (2 balls)

Viste styles his work as bear art but in his fetish work his men are not typical members of that clan.  They tend to be middle-aged, Latin, slightly podgy and not particularly hairy. They are usually shown as the inmates of a grim, military-style fortress or prison. Within these walls they are subjected to a variety of sado-masochistic tests, trials or punishments with a distinctly sexual flavour. This example has a prison setting but there’s more of a sense of military training going on, intended to develop endurance, team work and loyalty to one’s colleagues.

Viste - Cerro Bastone (Oak stick)
This is clearly a punishment scenario and there’s a very formal set up with the subject placed on a raised platform in the middle of an (empty) fortress courtyard. At the same time there’s an improvised quality to the set up with a roughly hewn post held in place by crude wedges, suggesting that a special example is being made of this man. The victim’s arms and limbs are pulled back allowing full access to his naked body by his tormentor. In fact what seems to be in progress is taunting and humiliation rather than brutality but it’s somewhat obscure.
Viste often shows the Italian Tricolore flying in the background but here, intriguingly, it appears to be the Union Jack. 

Viste - Bear 04
This arrangement is even more complex and sophisticated, incorporating plumbed-in shower heads to periodically drench the victim with cold water and built-in lighting allowing punishment to continue through the night and also ensure that every man passing through the square will witness his degradation. Viste’s occasional interest in lighting effects shows a genuine artistic curiosity and ambition. Here the guard is angrily brandishing a whip, but although he’s stripped for his exertions it doesn’t seem to have left its mark yet, despite the sagging pose of the victim.

I had some difficulty picking examples for this article because there’s an even consistency about Viste’s work that makes differentiation quite hard. A good deal of it features relatively static tableaux like this seen by us quite distantly as though in a theatre. The drawing of the detail is very precise but you can see from the width of the lines that the artist is working on a relatively small size of paper for the breadth and complexity of the scene he is portraying. This limits the detail achievable particularly here the subtleties of facial expressions which are so important to us in establishing connections and empathy.

Viste - Tirarre
This picture is very different. The victim seems relatively young, soft-skinned and hairless. We see him close up and this creates for us a much greater sense of him as an individual, uncomfortably restrained and bracing himself for the lash of the whip. The sweep of his back and partial view of his bottom is much more erotic than the full length nudity of the last picture and draws us to him. Our erotic response becomes part of his humiliation.

The torturer has stripped down to his underwear underlining the severity of the punishment and his own erotic interest in despoiling this succulent cub. As before, we don’t see the whip in action, it’s a threat still to come which seems to evidence the artist’s interest in the psychology of threat, torment and fear rather than the drama and brutality of pain.

Tirarre (tirare) by the way has a variety of meanings sexual and colloquial (to throw, to have a stiffie, to go strongly) which will add much colour to the intensity of this situation for an italian speaker but do little to clarify the events surrounding it.

Viste - Adunata Fustigazione (gathering for a flogging)
In this example Viste uses the same close-up device but it serves to place us amongst the inmates who are not here to take pleasure in this man’s misfortune but to learn the wisdom of not doing the same. They are all stripped to their underwear as though to suggest to them it might be the turn of any one of them next. The relative maturity of the whipper makes an interesting contrast.

There’s no doubt about the whip making itself felt here and we can only speculate about consequences of the prisoner’s arousal in response to his pain. Our own response allows us to visualise the effects it might be producing within the underwear of the other men around us.

Viste - Laid Out (?)
This scenario is completely different, for once it’s completely private and intimate and the sexual targeting much more overt, although the stony faced guards seem to be disinterested or in denial but very determined. The prisoner can only squirm as the torment is applied. Notice again the difference in ages. The victim is no boy, but the maturity of his antagonists casts him into that role. Viste’s treatment of the lighting here is more polished and the soft clouded effect something of a triumph. It highlights the planks leaning against the wall, a mysterious, threatening presence.

Whilst Viste shows great ingenuity in varying these ordeals, his repeated invocations of similar situations seems to indicate a deep personal involvement with the subject matter whose causes we can only guess at. The militaristic, relentlessly cruel guards are readily recognisable stereotypes but Viste gives few clues to the character of the victims – they just seem to grit their teeth and suffer - if we can see their faces at all. One gets the sense of men caught up in the game, having their masculinity tested and exposed by an uncaring, unchallengable authority.

Viste - Scaricatori (loader?)
The punishment frame here is highly elaborate, purposefully designed, technological even, in tune with the modern surroundings. It all suggests a degree of permanence and therefore level of usage that would intimidate the toughest prisoner. The unfortunate captive quails before an exceptionally massive torturer whose handiwork is already in evidence in various places on his body. But it’s still the fear of what is to come that drives this piece.

This victim with his bushy (almost comic) moustache is a more common character type in Viste’s art than my selection might suggest. He seems a most unlikely person to end up in this position and his nudity seems to underline how ordinary he is. That might explain his “I can’t believe this” expression (and the wry smile of the left hand guard awaiting his turn).

I have two variants of this picture and in the other one the victim’s cock is uncovered. The white shroud seen here, secured with gold cord seems hugely erotic and symbolic, suggesting a mystical, ritualistic purpose, unknown but disturbing.

Viste’s work is quite impenetrable in some ways, often suggesting a deeper significance which he chooses not to share with us or clarify for us. Like a Kafka novel you wonder ‘Yes, I like it, but what’s it all about? What’s going on?”

His work is quite easy to find, he has a blog at Vistebear

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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