A new exhibition at London’s ICA titled Keep Your Timber Limber explores how artists since the 1940s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time, ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to feminist issues, war, censorship and race. Stretching from fashion to erotica, the works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive, employing traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.
Choosing to step outside the boundaries of social acceptability, the works in Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) comprise modest proposals and trenchant political gestures. At first glance, Tom of Finland’s erotic drawings from the 1950s and 60s seem to be simply pornographic, though they always endeavor – as part of a personal manifesto – to present the healthy sex lives of gay men. Unusual at the time, homosexual erotica often portrayed men as aggressive, angry or shameful. Tom of Finland’s beaming protagonists illustrate these unions as joyful ones. Tom of Finland’s drawings have since become an important beacon for many homosexual men – found in physique pamphlets they were their first introduction to a world of which they were a part.
Cortés’ gallery reminds us that the body is central to discussions around HIV/AIDS and that what we do with our bodies is important, interesting, and at the root of much great art. IT FEELS LIKE LOVE… is a sexy, evocative, and deeply felt web gallery.