Barahona PossoloSweet (2013)

I love this.

Stylistically, it wouldn’t be out of pace displayed side-by-side with any of Caravaggio’s biblical paintings. (In fact, there would be a reasonably interesting paper comparing/contrasting the influence of both Caravaggio (with a distinction between his biblical vs mythological work) and Klimt‘s paintings after 1900 in Possolo’s work.)

Granted, such explicitly suggestive depictions don’t really exist in the Western Art Historical Canon. There certainly aren’t rigidly errect penii in Caravaggio–however, I believe there may be a few lurking in Klimt’s criminally under-appreciated sketches.

But my point here (as well as with this blog) is there is no reason there couldn’t be/shouldn’t be graphic depictions of sex in art.

And that’s not to say this completely works. Ostensibly, the fellow on the top left is ladling honey out of one of wide mouth wine glass with a wooden spoon and letting it drip onto the engorged glans of the man on the lower left. (Note: the wine glass bears more than a passing resemblance reminds me to a similar object in Vermeer’s The Wine Glass.)

On the right half of the frame, you have the exuberantly performative excitement/delight of the guy on the top and the transfixed and lets be honest clearly thirsty AF woman on the lower right.

Some of the other facets are much more difficult to decode. Like–there’s a feeling that all the men in the image are aware of each other but the woman seems oblivious to everything except the honey marinated hard-on. (Let’s be honest, that is the locus here.) This conjecture is at least supported by the strange elf like ears all the men have.

I’m not really sure what the bumble bee on the woman’s flank indicates either–given the context of the image it seems it could speak to her sexuality and contrast that against the seeming ambiguity of the elf-eared ones; yet if that’s the case there are potential ways in which it could be interpreted that the image erases gay, lesbian and bisexual women. (And that’s not ever cool.)

But what really strikes me about this image–and like so much of the way my brain works this isn’t an association I would have made if I hadn’t read this article several days ago–the way he of the honey slicked dick breaks the fourth wall reminds me of the way Robert Mapplethorpe performs a similar action in (arguably) his most notorious image. It’s as if both are saying: this is who I am. But in the case of this painting there’s an insouciance and arrogance in contrast to Mapplethorpe’s studied gravitas.

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