“So often labelled provocative or even pornographic, the sexually-expressive sensuality in the artwork of multimedia artist Brent Ray Fraser is actually more akin to art from two millennia ago as well as a hit parade of high profile modern artists who have pushed the envelope about what is art.” – Barry Dumka
“Sex and art are the same things.”
– Pablo Picasso
The last 150 years has been a wild romp of delectably delicious and decadently depraved works of art.
From Courbet’s 1866 tightly-cropped painting of a vagina (which didn’t go on public display until 1988) to Jeff Koons’s 1989 Made in Heaven series that involved him and his Italian porn star wife in explicit sexual acts and included such titles as Dirty Ejaculation and Ilona’s Asshole (which made its debut at the 1990 Venice Biennale – proving that the masses finally could be trusted as long as they were rich and chic).
If you consider Klimt’s lusciously naked late 19th century ladies, Picasso’s 75 years of rapturously erotic drawings, Warhol’s hot body shots for his Sex Parts series in the late-70s (which he casually referred to as his Cocks, Cunts and Balls series) to the 2014 installation in Paris of American artist’s Paul McCarthy’s 79-foot tall Tree sculpture which looks to all the world like one big butt plug, you can appreciate that art has long known how to toy and tease and trumpet sex and sexuality.
While times and tastes are always subject to change, the majority of Western sensibilities are still heavily grounded in their puritanical roots. Despite a history of prim and proper societal pressures, there have always been those who seek to stir up and shake loose those old-fashioned notions.
Prude vs. Lewd
It seems every time some artist flashes a nipple or paints a penis (or even paints with a penis as Renoir was said to have done), there is shock and outrage and some button-down critic calls it porn or – perhaps worse – shallow and boring. For a society that got here through sex, we seem to want to avoid its creative celebration.
And that’s what Brent Ray Fraser is offering – a carnival parade of sensuality and a libidinous celebration of the expressive potential of a life and body fully committed to art.
Cock of the Walk
He’s definitely a cockyboy of creativity. In his sensual singularity, Fraser could be seen as the embodiment of ancient Pompeii’s sexually creative spirit – a happy argument for the joy of letting it all hang out.
No doubt his penis monotypes would have found favour with those ancient toga-wearing townsfolk. But the work is double-edged – pornstar vainglorious on one side as well as a minimalist Rorschach blot of ambiguity. It’s up to the viewer to determine what they want to see.