There’s so much to like ... in Bruno Gmünder’s Stripped Uncensored, a homage to erotic gay art from around the world – Joe Phillips, Patrick Fillion, Wes Hempel, Todd Yeager, fifty-seven artists in all – that it seems churlish to regret the omissions (Josman, for example). But what is a source of pride is ... the work of three Aussie artists: Peter Skirrow (aka Petros), Ross Watson and Jozef Szekeres.
This volume presents, ‘The world’s most accomplished and genuinely brilliant talent on the gay erotic art scene today." “Nice to know that three such people are Australians,” Jozef says. “It's recognition given to Australian artists by internationals. Hopefully this will bring local attention to the fact that we have Australian based international players in the erotic arts.”
Jozef has been doing homoerotic artwork since 2006. “Having my artwork as the event party poster for Mardi Gras '07, and creating support artwork for the Villains Lair Sleaze Ball '08 must have lifted my profile internationally, as I was invited to present ten artworks for consideration to Stripped Uncensored. I sent images that varied in style and execution; however, they decided to print the four that looked the most similar in style.”
Inclusion showcases that Aussie artists are equal (if not better) to anything else in the world which Jozef hopes will lead to more opportunities for the artists to make a living from their work. He is particularly critical of the lack of local opportunity provided by some major gay social organisations.
“The last three Sleaze Ball Mardi Gras events, for example, were illustrated by Canadian American artist Glen Hanson. He’s very talented and very successful, and I don't begrudge him the work, but surely an Australian could have done this as successfully. Three Sleaze posters in a row by a non-Australian talent is criminally insulting to the Australian pool of artistic talent.” He also regrets that more local artists weren’t included in the book given the international quality being produced here.
With his experience as an animator, Jozef works from the blank page. “Homoerotic artworks are born from a combination of what's in my head directed by my loins,” he says. “I've noted that both Ross Watson and Peter Skirrow use photo reference from their own personal photo shoots for their artworks. I've started exploring that as well. It allows access to details that my mind on its own cannot remember or even conceive. Even when creating work based on photo referencing, I still work from an original sketch to base the photographic model's pose. The added fun in the photo shoots comes from the extra photos beyond a designed pose. All my models so far have been friends, so there has been no limit to the intimacies I can capture.”
Peter Skirrow, on the other hand, has drawn and painted family, countryside, animals and farm scenes since he was a young boy growing up on a farm in England and then in West Australia. He refined his skill at life drawing classes before training in Graphic Art at WAIT/Curtin in Perth. He freelanced in Perth and London before settling in Sydney in 1988 and producing a series of gay greeting cards which were “mostly black and white pencil drawings of hirsute guys. I wanted to use images which portrayed affection and emotion between men rather than showing just the body perfect in tasteful or raunchy positions, not that I object to that at all.”
Although he doesn’t eschew the term homoerotic, Peter prefers homosensual which he defines as work which details “the relation and interaction between two males, emotional and psychological.” He also paints portraits, landscapes and architecture although, “it is my passion for the male form that inspires me to concentrate on that subject”.
Peter admires many homoerotic artists such as Tom of Finland, Stephen, Julius and Palanka, for example, but he has developed his own style. “It’s a synthesis of my art experience, life drawing and the best I see in art. I can’t say I’m a disciple of any one particular artist or school.”
His inclusion in Stripped Uncensored came from a fortuitous meeting with Bruno Gmünder himself at the recent Sydney Mardi Gras. A few months later he was contacted to submit to the book.
“When I’m working with models,” he says, “after a brief discussion, I tend to allow them to follow a natural course of events with each other. The simultaneously sexy and aesthetic material I capture on film I turn into a drawing or a watercolour which I hope will inspire, turn on and hopefully move my audience.”
Peter regularly accepts commissions and renders the client’s requirements realistically in black and white with graphite, painted in watercolours, or drawn as a stylized cartoon.
Jozef Szekeres and Peter Skirrow will be signing copies of Stripped Uncensored at The Bookshop Darlinghurst, Thursday 27 August from 6pm.
An edited version of this article is published in SX.