Ben Youdan’s “MASC – The Men of Los Angeles”

BEN YOUDAN (Briton, 1979-) at TOM House

I first met Ben when he was visiting Berlin for Folsom EU and must say that not only is his intricate art amazing, he is also one of the nicest people I have ever encountered!

Over afternoon coffee and cake as in Berlin tradition, he shared his story and about the processes he uses in making his artworks.

Ben’s pieces employ a wide variety of techniques and elements including collage, painting, printmaking and photography, to create imagery that takes inspiration from the iconography and printed collectibles of popular culture as well as Queer identity. His elaborate pieces explore themes such as fetish, glamour, masculinity, and sexuality. They are a true handmade product and a comment on the human condition in the context of the new media landscape.

Everybody needs some sparkle in their life

He has participated in the Homotopia arts festival, as well as the Liverpool Biennial, and Liverpool Pride. In addition to this, his work has been featured on Madonna’s latest world tour and a wide variety of group shows in the United States and across Europe. Since then,  Ben has had he has had three solo shows in the U.K.and an exhibition at the Liverpool Museum of Art in his hometown.  Then he accepted an offer to be an Artist in Residence of the Tom of Finland Foundation house in the Echo Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

Specifically for this Los Angeles exhibition Ben has created a series of six mixed media portraits in the unique and inspiring atmosphere of TOM house and has been facilitated by having the opportunity to make incredible connections within the Leather community of Los Angeles. The work seeks to embody the message of freedom contained in Tom of Finland’s oeuvre and attempts to contextualise this in a contemporary way that is a direct response to a variety of external influences.

The work seeks to be an exuberant celebration of male beauty, the male form and its erotic nature, by exploring the archetype of the Leatherman and challenging preconceptions of masculinity. There is a visual subtext of sensuality contained within the works that attempt to promote a sex-positive attitude.

This is all very important, as it has been created against a backdrop of troubling times. With the Internet being continually censored, and the neoconservatives appearing to have a prevailing influence in our culture that flies in the face of societal progression made from the 1960s to the present day, I strongly believe artists should make a conscious decision to react against this and fight back. Queer art is a protest. (bw)

OPENING 16th February

By Black Boot

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