Ink, 1995 & 2017
Started in 1995; completed in 2017.
Originally a small illustration in a college sketchpbook (produced in June 1995),
this piece was enlarged, refined and worked over by hand in ink, during October 2017.
The stare is arrogant. Perhaps insolent. This person has nothing to fear. The background, and indeed the features of the face, are reminiscent of a setting in the ancient world of Greece or Rome – a patrician who looks on others with a disregard verging on contempt.
This being may possibly be a hermaphrodite. It is difficult to tell. But then, does it matter anyway given that we are being viewed by someone who clearly sees himself – or herself – as superior to us in every way? We cannot judge, or even assess, them according to our own standards.
We may be reminded of Antinous, the young beloved of the Emperor Hadrian in the early second century, who was depicted in art and sculpture for centuries after his untimely end as a young man of questionable sexuality – the innocent and divine adolescent who would live forever because of his association with the greatness of the older man.
Antinous could be seen by later generations as lascivious, but also as malicious. We can see such tendencies and emotions in the eyes of this person, and we cannot be comfortable in their presence. But that may be part of the attraction.
Text: Richard Hayes