Skip to content

Art Review


Art and shadow

 Playboy photographs, dead cats, a catholic schoolgirl in combat boots, even a toaster can stir someone’s erotic imagination. With such a range of imagery, what is erotic? Inundated with sexual imagery on a daily basis, eroticism becomes a subjective, private issue; not readily interpreted. The Art Jones’ panel discussion Eros, Art and Shadow, was an attempt to explore the meaning and existence of the erotic in art, a provocative topic especially as Douglas Padilla, the curator, pointed out in Minnesota, “a land of puritan culture.” In conjunction with the Erotic Art Show occurring both at Art Jones and The Space, the consisted of four artists: J. Nevitt, Marc Dbauch, Werner Pavlovich, and Douglas Padilla who discussed their own work in terms of the erotic and their reasons for choosing their various subjects. Interestingly, the show was misnamed. Originally, the title was to be “Eros, Art and Shame,” but inadvertently Shadow was substituted for shame, putting a change in the meaning of the show. Yet, as Padilla pointed out, shame can be the shadow, and both are dealt with in the works on display and as the reason for creating erotic art. Padilla admits the significance of Catholic iconography lending itself to the erotic in his collages. “I’m working with sexual images and suddenly, I’m putting pictures of Jesus in there, and it makes sense.” For Marc Dbauche, there is also in his highly sexualized imagery, a need to explore forbidden desires not allowed in his Catholic upbringing, “where there was a lot of shame about sex” and by doing erotic art he “came out, and began to enjoy sex more.” J. Nevitt’s “Linoleum” also was created from a need to “create an atmosphere where they’re [the viewer] is with someone who wants them do something they haven’t done before, and they have he courage to do it.” But are such images successful? As one audience member pointed out, successful erotic images are those that show a lack of control, for one viewer, “It is an element of your psyche that is controlling you, as an artist you have to decide how far are you going to go to remove that level of control.” For him only five works were able to achieve this lack of restraint. Another audience member/artist questioned the significance of sex in establishing what is erotic. Concluding that sex has little to do with what is erotic and pointing out that “it might be erotic up to the point of having sex,” he pointed out that the challenge to the artist is to create acknowledging that “its not really about having sex.” Through veering off in misdirection to a discussion of gender politics, reproductive technology and cloning, the panel allowed for the artists and audience to interact while having the art present as a reference point. What was missing was an exploration of what is erotic, and how does one’s erotic image affect the viewer. It would have been interesting for the audience to explore how and in what way the images worked on them erotically; to answer the question: were the works successful? The failure of the panel to fully discuss the whole imaginative range of what is erotic was limited by the “control over the psyche,” even among this enlightened audience.