Maybe the first artist who broke away from the archetype of virile man was Bas Jan Ader, when in early seventies introduced in a gallery pleas and sentences of melodrama as please do not leave me; when filmed himself crying uncontrollably (I’m too sad to tell you), arranging vases of flowers or delighting in front of a sunset.
Although his intention was not to undermine the segregation of roles but to parody the image of a tormented artist, he opened a gap that would widen successive generations of men artists dissidents with male stereotype.
If in the eighties, following the ravages of AIDS artists dared to show their wounds, their vulnerability (Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Pepe Espaliu …), in the nineties were cleared new paths by those who venture into sexualities that challenge the mannish in men feel.
Alex Francés, from his first photographic series, down taboos associated with the weakness of a man when he loves, the pleasant pain of feeling dominated by the lover, the urge to be drowned Ofelias, of being passive
until masochists extremes… Bodies that let be tied, hanged, cornered, penetrated … in exchange from a promise of fusion with the other. Failed promises, so become onanistic pleasures, but always worth a try because they are rites of purification, like digging one’s own grave but leaving it open to scape. Digging it in snow, in straw or riverbank, nest-burial-shelter.
Bodies transiting between withdrawal and splitting that desire spurs on, between shield themselves with ceramic armor and hollow marsupial bags in clay torsos. The male claims for himself the symbolic power to incubate, take care and receiving care.
Deconstructing latent identities through ritual also has been treated by Miguel Benlloch. In his performances highlights the castrating masquerade of dressing that uniforms gender patterns according to trades, professions and status (51 géneros), or the ridiculousness of calculating virility rates according penis size (11 de media). Their actions symbolically heal these social burdens through liberating gestures such as undressing (coercive clothes), to adopt ambiguous garments (bricklayer overalls with sequins), to wank with cock turned balloon-prosthesis until make it explode…
The outdated image of male as erotic icon has been targeted of parodies of cuban Elio Rodriguez, who under the brand Macho Enterprise S.A. has been producing artistic objects that emulate the kitsch of Caribbean souvenir, that corrode the advertising myth of black as sexual potency by ironic syncretism with bullfighting and Hollywood posters, making the pastiche a way of perverting the imagery typified by tourism.
Orgiastic paintings, fruit exuberance, titles like La gran corrida o Fuerza latina, all production of this artist-entrepreneur-trickster oozes sex and seduction. Delves into the layers of the collective unconscious where the archetypes of otherness arouse fear and desire at the same time to let arise the machismo that pervades popular culture.
From other areas, Saul Sellés also reflects on art as a weapon of seduction. Assaying on own bodyown formulas that offset the competitive burden of artistic ring, he learned a dance originally associated with female strippers, the pole dance. From this emerged El luchador, a performance that merges in one body two practices, boxing and pole dance, male aggression and female seduction, diluting the fence between the two reserves of exclusivity, two symbolic orders in gender construction based on cult to the body.
It has been talked a lot of feminist art, dissatisfied with patriarchal canons, but those canons also restrict freedom male. Cited artists take us a walk through the hidden side of masculinity, crossing the threshold of the staging to speak with frankness of his own life experience.