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Message updated 25th June 2023

Friday 24 August 2018

The Art of Homoeros 7 - Sebastian and other endings

Homoeros - Seb39 
Given Homoeros' interest in crucifixion it's not surprising to find him exploring the St Sebastian fable as well. This early rendering is simple and highly effective with a nice-looking subject. With his head thrown back, the captive seems to be defiantly offering up his body to the archers. The original Sebastian was a captain in the army who was condemned for deviating from the beliefs of his era, so the appeal of the story to gays is not hard to understand. For those purely attracted by the nature of the punishment it's nice to know that he did not perish from the arrows, but was taken in by a kindly soul and lived to fight another day.

Homoeros - sebastian_04
 This astonishing portrayal of the Sebastian story is totally original to the best of my knowledge. The physical elevation of the victim borrows from crucifixion scenarios and confers a degree of dignity and significance on him that seems to have left his attacker in a state of awe. In that respect it's treading similar ground to the building yard scene we saw in the last post, examining the relationship between torturer and tortured which usually goes unremarked.

The unconventional viewpoint used here has obviously been facilitated by the capabilities of the rendering software but that does not detract from the artist's achievement. Like Dali's Crucifixion it creates a sense of a superior being or of Fate looking down on a tragic scene being enacted by mere mortals.

Sebastian's arms are pulled right back behind the post, so he involuntarily presents his torso, unprotected to the archer, but Homoeros has refrained from depicting a titillating arrow in the groin area. Even by the great masters included this detail (e.g. RubensEl Greco, this example and this 17th Century version) and that has helped fuel suspicions of a gay/sexual motivation for his demise, but it's not referenced in the normal accounts.

The use of a post for restraint instead of the traditional tree seems to connect to other pictures by this artist musing on the myth of Jason being bound to the mast of 'The Argo' in order to resist the call of the Sirens. Making such a reference to a story about mastering sexual desire adds an interesting swirl to the murky, erotic waters surrounding Sebastian's legend.

This isn't meant to be an authentic interpretation of the original story, but transporting the action from an ordinary field to the courtyard of a luxurious villa is not without relevance to the original, since it brings out the elevated status of the man who condemned him (The Emperor). The archer (and there appears to be only one of them) is one of Homoeros' most interesting creations with brief, leather shorts and other limb accoutrement's emphasising an enviable physique (as you would expect from this artist). He's endowed with a beautiful face of Mediterranean ethnicity, which is near-authentic to the original narrative of Mauritanian, Berber archers doing the dirty work. 

Homoeros - sebastian_forgives_his_killer_2
This image further pursues the victim-perpetrator relationship into territory which is verging on the religious. That aspect which is accentuated by the glorious sunshine which incongruously bathes the scene. Sebastian demonstrates an audacious control-reversal which is clearly very confusing to the archer. He appears to be a man of some substance, doing the job himself, rather than appointing a lackey to do it for him, which you may interpret as either sadistic or honourable behaviour on his part. Sebastian's tilted head is an attractive, expressive element. It suggests an ability to patronise in extremity that you have to take your hat off to, but it must make the archer wish he'd used even bigger arrows. As it is, these over sized projectiles create an impressive visual effect and an impression of an irreversible outcome. Original accounts disrespectfully compared it to a porcupine.

Setting the scene in Homoeros', now-familiar 'punishment compound' creates a connection with other scenes by the artist and it's a device (possibly unintentional) that helps give Homoeros' work a unity and cohesive identity which is quite unusual and very interesting.

Homoeros - Dragged_away_02
This image looks at the aftermath of punishment. It's not linked to the Sebastian theme but you can see it's the same arena. The exhausted recipient is dragged away by two hunky men. They are dressed in jeans which returns us to the modern era, but it's best not to think too much about such things when viewing Homoeros work. Although this image has no particular erotic or fetish content (beyond the implication of domination) I find it immensely satisfying and that's due in no small measure to the contrast of clothing and muscular nudity and the workman-like attitudes of the two minders. There's a sense of this incident slotting into something much bigger and over which the dragged man has no control.

Homoeros - 244a_in_the_souk_19

This is a sequel to the harem image I posted in Part 4 and shows No 244 with ropes still dangling from his wrists and incarcerated in a cage which seems to be built for public viewing. He's just received a flogging and is awaiting his next appointment. It's a very simple image and one that perhaps works better on it's own rather than as part of a busy sequence of events, you need to pause and get into this one. He gazes towards the light of the bustling outside world, wondering no doubt what might have been. From his stance he seems to be observing something happening out there. Maybe someone he knows is passing by. You may recognise this as the same location as his St Andrews Cross adventure from Part 3 but we do not know if this particular unpleasantness has already happened to him or still lies in the future. 
Homoeros - 226b2_tommy_star_swimmer_22
There's an even clearer focus on the feelings of the victim in this image. It depicts a Gold Medal-winning swimmer, who we previously saw flirting with a fellow swimmer in Part 1. He's just been violated and beaten up by a gang of hoodlums for reasons which are not specified, but there's a clue in the fact that they take photographs of 'the star' in his humiliated state before departing.
Regardless of that storyline, this is beautiful image, that conveys his dejected, weary state most eloquently. That alone makes for a sexy picture, but the discarded clothes at his feet inject an extra spicing of eroticism.

Homoeros - 288c_alex_11_
We've come a long way from those depictions of sunny days on the beach, the carefree, playful games of handsome boys, who cannot imagine that their innocent fun is fuelling darker thoughts....

Homoeros - 212_19 pulley
....thoughts which will take them and propel them into the clutches of powerful predators
with captivity and pain the probable outcome.

Homoeros - super_moon_03
The dark and mysterious world that the men of Homoeros imagination must negotiate is summed up quite neatly by the atmosphere of this pretty fantasy. It makes a nice punctuation point to this review although it's self conscious artiness is not really typical of his work. The simple expressiveness of male bodies under duress in the preceding images is a better testament to his skills. Homoeros is a good example of an artist who repays the viewer who pauses to look closer. The first impression of quirky anatomy, occasional doll-like characters and low key sexuality, laced with impressive spectacle masks a wealth of original ideas and observation which I have tried to bring out in this series of articles. A worthy entrant to the fetish Hall of Fame

Next time: The women in Homoeros work

Read this series from Part 1

1 comment:

The Mighty Foo said...

I'm a huge admirer of Homoeros' work. Thanks for your wonderful detailed commentary!