“Sometimes the simplicity in a piece of art can create a profound experience. Making my monoprints began as a way to repurpose a part of myself as a creative tool and to celebrate the beauty and power of the erect penis. Society seems to both desire and disapprove of guy’s hard parts but what about simply valuing their sculptural form and the good energy they contain. Life starts in this way. But these monoprints are also meant to be iconic – they are emblems for my creative freedom. They symbolize my excitement and arousal as I make love to all my muses.” – Brent Ray Fraser
For his series of Self-Portrait Monoprints, Brent Ray Fraser takes a unique measurement of his creative self that is at once suggestively abstract as well as aggressively sexual. Fraser has been making impressions of his painted penis for many years in single strokes of true self love. His choice to call these monoprints a ‘self-portrait’ speaks to the art-sexual aesthetic that animates much of his work. Fraser is literally fucking with our expectations for what makes for meaningful art.
What is a self portrait?
The self-portrait is an act of artistic introspection done for public consideration. No matter what they show or hide, a self-portrait is always intimately revealing. Van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits in a 3 year span including his infamous Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear which forever sealed his fate as a troubled artist given to self-inflicted wounds.
In his famous painting The Persistence of Memory from 1931, Salvador Dali made his self-portrait into a surrealist landscape. Artists were now able to see themselves in the abstract opening up a larger visual vocabulary. Andy Warhol once pictured himself in drag and another time with his face overlaid with camouflage. Jean-Michel Basquiat saw himself as a graffiti-style stick figure, black and brutal. We are what we interpret ourselves to be.
Of course, the penis has had a long history of poking its way into art – including the sexualized frescoes of ancient Pompeii, Michelangelo’s David (the most viewed penis in all of history), Robert Mapplethorpe’s flagrant members and Jeff Koons’ eager cock. Now Brent Ray Fraser gives his to us in a raw, fluid style. In his low-brow swagger, Fraser is playing with society’s phallic fantasies while making a bold statement about creative freedom. These minimalist images can be seen as exclamation marks for a career quite willing to shock – and please – an audience. And each one is gorgeous, a work of pure beauty.