THE ILLUSTRATION OF MICHAEL KIRWAN
Emergency (c. 1998) (Detail)
© Michael Kirwan
The Tom of
Finland Foundation and The Erotic Museum present this solo exhibition
of illustrator Michael Kirwan. Please join us for the special
artist's reception. Meet Michael Kirwan in person and mingle with
fellow art lovers. The evening will include DJ's, a hosted bar
and all current Erotic Museum exhibitions. At the request of the
artist, sales from this exhibition will contribute to the Tom
of Finland Foundation's Marcello Lupetti Artists Fund.
2005 - 7:00 - 11:00 PM
$10 General Public - $7.95 Foundation members - Free to
credentialed members of the Press.
The exhibit runs through January 12, 2006.
6741 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
was made possible by a generous donation from Michaeljohn Horne
and Design and Decor Framers of Santa Ana.
figural aesthetic of Michael Kirwan depicts a dizzying array of
obscure fetishes and indulgent scenarios in lurid color. Kirwan's
work falls into two categories: that work which he does to make
a living and that which he does for his own personal satisfaction
as an artist. Being a gay man who is often called upon to represent
heterosexual scenes in his professional life give his commercial
work a unique perspective. He identifies as much with the male
figures (the subject of his work) as with the female (the object)
and as such objectifies neither. His characters seem to express
a measure of empathy with the intended audience: they are the
viewer in a way, or the person he fantasizes himself to be. It
is this connection with the subject that makes Kirwan's illustrations
special. They are not empty shells filled with sexuality, they
seem more like real growing creatures expressing a sexuality of
The work on
display in the exhibition is from Kirwan's professional life.
The work he does in private and often shows as part of the Tom
of Finland Foundation's exhibitions is a direct link to the visual
heritage of that organization's namesake but with a different
geographic origin. If the ghost of Tom's heroic sailors and lumberjacks
still stride the Scandinavian countryside, the same spirit lives
in Kirwan's unemployed salesmen and short-order cooks of the Bronx
and the Waterfront. It is a common and confident male form, indulgent
in it's sexuality, not apologetic.
got involved in this field (commercial illustration for adult
magazines) back in the very early 90s I researched what other
illustrators were submitting and was pretty dismayed by what
I discovered. The women were depicted as vacuous interchangeable
blow-up dolls who portrayed neither emotion or personality.
The men, when they were even allowed in the frame, were shown
as nebbish, creepy little perverts who slobbered and grasped
shamelessly at the preternaturally lovely women accommodating
them. This industry standard didn't sit well with me. I take
a great deal of pleasure in humanizing characters and investing
them with both personality and sexuality. I don't judge people.
It's not my job. But illustrating porn is my job and I take
pride in the fact that none of my randy little creations is
debased, demeaned or derided for being different. They're horny,
happy and human. I see each scene through each of the character's
eyes, and everybody always sees what they like. - Michael Kirwan
includes over 30 works by the prolific artist and a selection
of original works by Tom of Finland.
For more info,
resolution versions of images by the artist, suitable for print,
and complete Artist Statement are available here.
link to this event.
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