I think of a tilt of the head. Slightly off to one side, a gaze cast down or tilted up to the sky—neck outstretched and accessible. How do these postures articulate the space between shame and pride? Performed chasteness, a head down and eyes averted from the camera, works in erotic imagery as performed shame, played for the benefit of the viewer. Paul P.’s act of rendering models from gay erotic magazines, in the style of 19th-century art, becomes a performance itself. In appropriating the images, new meaning forms. The portraits and corresponding abstractions and colour studies exist within a kind of purgatory. There’s a sensation of floating while looking at the work, thanks to the in-between qualities of visibility/ invisibility, stigma/pride, low brow/high brow, contrast/ monotone and implicit/explicit desire.
“Their portraits are then systematically rendered along modes of late nineteenth century painting and drawing; another tenuous period of aesthetic energy wherein homosexuality transformed from an act into a personality.”