Monday, May 16, 2011
A onetime ballet dancer, choreographer, set designer and decorator, Dom Orejudos was best known under his two pseudonyms, Etienne and Stephen, as an illustrator of violent and humorous homosexual fantasies in the pages of numerous gay porn rags and other sorts of mass circulated publications for the last twenty five, or so, years of his life. He died at the age of 58 in 1991.
The pieces above and just below look like fairly early works. The pseudo-classical spanking scene doesn't even reveal any genitalia. The prison fantasy looks to be at least ten years later in origin, judging by the improved paint handling and understanding of anatomy. It's among my favorites of his pictures, though I find this idealisation of prison culture considerably less complex than Genet's. One gets the feeling that Dom didn't really know it from the inside as Jean did. Still, it shows some subtle signs of a cultural critique beginning to sprout.
The boxing scene below is yet another attempt on his part to make clear the uses that the dominant culture finds for homosexual desire within the mainstream. Among the viewers of this match, it looks like both Ernie Kovacs and Tony Curtis are enjoying the show. (I assume this one dates from around the time of that misbegotten Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick collaboration, Spartacus, circa 1960.) The Huns Sacking Rome appears to be dated 1963 in Roman numerals. In my view, it's a fair reflection of the popular culture of its time. I can't help but think of the (then) ubiquitous Stephen Boyd when viewing it.
The following two paintings appear to be from the same period (perhaps even the same series,) which I guess to be relatively late in his career, probably the mid-eighties. I'm no fan of fist fucking, and have no interest in trying it in either role, however, I do admire Etienne's representation of his own sadomasochistic desire to be both victim and villain. The larger group scene, incorporating sculpture, photography and performance, strikes me as a kind of perverse tribute to the power of art to transform our lives in various unexpected ways.
In these murals, Etienne seems to be trying to channel the spirit of Diego Rivera, trumpeting the glories of industrialized modernity. Here he makes literal his view of the submissive fantasy figures he constructed as vehicles for our collective pleasure.