Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rascals by Todd Yeager

Rascals
Todd Yeager

Published by Bruno Gmunder Verlag

Reviewed by Paul Kane

On the face of it, this is just a book of dirty drawings. There are plenty of clandestine liaisons, pictures concerned solely, it would seem, with the mechanics of sex. Yeager undoubtedly has “a desire for the dirt” (I’ve forgotten the original French phrase, if I ever quite caught it) and his tenebrous drawings, bruised and raw and sometimes sepia- or azure-tinted, are redolently expressive of it.

Yet this is not all. The best of these drawings, the most revealing of the artist one suspects, are those where the mood is one of tenderness, abandon, seduction; and especially the portraits which lambently capture moments of aloneness, introspection and even innocence. Two skinheads kissing, each one lost in the embrace. A Latin-looking guy with gentle post-coital eyes. A couple of young men, intimate allowances made, at ease in one another’s company. A beautiful blonde boy, his face scarified, a wanton expression in his eyes. This is book with some serious soul, along with the sleaze (which is welcome too, naturally).

Yeager’s erotic fantasies are to be found in the quotidian: this is his Elsewhere. These are drawings of ordinary young men; some are pretty, though not overly so. They have paunches, unremarkable and often skinny torsos. Their anatomy is realistic, not idealised and certainly not over-muscular. If Yeager has a kink it is a partiality to strange bodily adornments: tattoos, piercings, bejewellments of various sorts; scarifications all.

As an artist, Yeager counts Paul Cadmus as an inspiration (and I detect a hint of Fred Berger’s photography too) and he uses an accomplished, cross-hatchet technique. All of the drawings here are worth contemplation, but the portraits are the most impressive, and in particular one where the model’s arms, chest and genitals are pink and flesh-coloured, but the middle of his torso is as pale as death. A puer figure in extremis.

Overall the book is well produced, but perhaps the contents could have been better organised. Certain of the pictures seem part of a definite series and I would have welcomed some order, or some explanatory text, in this regard.


Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. Hewelcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com

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