The artist’s sex positive imagery is darkly erotic, elegant, and at times, sinister. A powerful and imaginative figure that emerged in the Los Angeles underground during the late ’80s, His photographs are characterized by potent and visceral tableaux, tinged with sadomasochism, leather and sexual pleasure. From the artist’s fetishizing of Tony Ward in the ’80s, to capturing moments, places and the people of the underground scene in Los Angeles nightlife in the ’90s and ’00s, he continues his pictorial career and fascination with lust, desire and kink producing elegant portraiture of celebrated artists and the demi-monde.
Curated by Rubén Esparza
I consider myself a fetish artist.
Be it thru photography, film, writing and blogging; this is who I am.
I understand the term fetish to be broad, more so than most people are aware, or would like to admit.
Fetishistic desire reaches all aspects of life.
-A form of sexual (not exclusively) desire in which gratification is linked to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, person, practice, etc.
-Fixation—obsession—compulsion—mania—a driving force.
-An object thought to have magical powers; something that is empowered by something else.
The sexual revolution began in the late ’60s through the ’70s, perhaps ending in the ’80s with HIV/AIDS.
The ’90s marked the beginning of the fetish revolution, my most prolific period.
Early twenty-first century is all about fetish.
This is my time. I was once labeled “the fetish king” by the press. I accept the title.
This exhibition is a comprehensive journey of my photography, 1986 through 2019. Besides the themes of BDSM, lust and desire, I am presenting an in-your-face pushback to American censorship. If we accept these restrictions as a community, we’re doomed.
-Rick Castro, 2019
Born in Los Angeles in 1958, Rick Castro began his early career working as a fashion stylist and clothing designer. His clients over the years have included Bette Midler, David Bowie, Herb Ritts, Joel-Peter Witkin and magazines like Interview, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. He first became a freelance photographer in 1988, with his work appearing in international and local publications.
His first solo was at A Different Light Bookstore in Silver Lake, California, in 1988. Over the decades he has had numerous international exhibitions. Notable films includes his short films of hustler interviews in 1994 that inspired Bruce LaBruce to make the film Hustler White in 1996, in which he was co-director/writer. The film garnered great success internationally and is listed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top 100 underground films of the twentieth century. Castro also directed a documentary for MTV called Plushies & Furries in 2001, a film which focused on the furry communities.
Over his 30 plus career, Castro has photographed producer Alan Poul, porn star Peter Berlin, author Gore Vidal, director Kenneth Anger, performance artist Ron Athey and the 14th Dalai Lama. Castro has created editorial photos for Christian Dior Homme, Cartier jewelry and other international fashion houses. He works closely with his friend, and designer, Rick Owens, realizing photographs that are notably more art than fashion.
Castro’s films are archived by UCLA Legacy Projects and his books and photographs are archived by the Alfred Kinsey Institute and Tom of Finland Foundation. He continues his art practice and commissioned photo shoots.
On view through 27th April by appointment
Durk Dehner, cofounder of Tom of Finland Foundation, was one of Rick Castro’s first collectors, and his first publisher. TOM House is where Castro hosts a tea salon every Wednesday and a monthly book club.