Exhibition Review: Intimacy
By Labanya Maitra
The social rhetoric of the time snakes along concepts about identity and the self. Intimacy, on display at the Yossi Milo Gallery from June 28th to August 24th, 2018, is a window into the development of this conversation around people and their interactions.
The exhibition addresses subjects of intimacy through the 1980’s and 1990’s as well as looks at the present day. Featuring artists and photographers like Richard Rinaldi, TM Davy, Elle Pérez, Peter Hujar, George Dureau, and Samantha Nye among others, Intimacy visualizes the AIDS crisis and the LGBTQ+ community.
Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series The Park captures intimate photographs of a gay couple being joined by a group of naked men. The photographs are shot infrared and Yoshiyuki uses flash to light his subjects.
The only viewing room in the exhibition holds a giant canvas of Samantha Nye’s Attractive People, Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places – Pool Party 1. The painting is set around a pool in an exquisite garden, where people are gathered in the nude in couples and groups; masturbating, having sex, engaging in oral sex, or simply sun bathing. Her work is displayed in a group that’s styled in a way similar to Nicole Eisenman’s 2016 Lindsay’s series. Nye’s paintings embrace freedom of sexuality in a very ‘summer of love’ manner.
One of the more haunting photographs in the exhibition is Nan Goldin’s Joey and Andres in bed. The lighting is raunchy in its red tones, but the photo in itself is gentle. It displays a romance we often picture as “perfect.” The woman is gently caressing the man’s face as she lies on top of him. Their limbs connect circularly as he in turn is grabbing on to her hips. Louis Fratino’s painting Furnace is similar in color and mood as two men lie in embrace, one gently holding the other’s face against his chest.
It takes a second to understand Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s Mirror Study. Sepuya places two mirrors next to each other, about five inches apart in front of a man’s torso. The resulting photograph shows parts of the camera and tripod reflected in the mirror, Sepuya’s hand, and the hidden man behind the mirrors.
Intimacy is curated by Stephen Traux, a New York based artist and writer, who has done a remarkable job in showcasing nearly 40 artists and photographers. The themes of AIDS and homosexuality are apparent throughout the exhibition. They portray all the artists’ varying perspectives. They range from a direct depiction, like Bryson Rand’s Untitled image, to an abstract one, like Stephen Irwin’s Untitled.
While nearly all of the images are somewhat sexual in nature, the mood of the exhibition is rather serene. There aren’t too many bright, saturated colors with the exception of the viewing room. The rest of the collection gives off a more faded, muted and pastel vibe.
Intimacy is exactly that: intimate. The way the exhibition is laid out gives the viewer space to look at the different artists’ creations in the way the artist intended for it to be seen. Some of the images are in a cluster and form a narrative within themselves to help guide the visual experience.