October 31 - November 24, 2006
London, England / Online

Adonis Art
New Paintings
by Philip Swarbrick

Painting by Philip Swarbrick

On-Line Gallery Available

Preview on Tuesday October 31, 6.30 - 8.30 PM

Philip Swarbrick, the South African artist is departing from his first exhibition at Adonis Art, Dangerous - a series of oil paintings, which were the culmination of a journey of self-discovery that began on the beaches of Durban in the 1960s and ended in the backstreets of London. Swarbrick incorporated his experience of being gay in apartheid South Africa and explored the hidden world of hedonism. It was a world where art had been afraid to tread.

From these paintings of the “urban jungle” Swarbrick now departs to a more general homoerotic theme but still and again very strikingly and bravely depicting the young body and interaction between boys on their own intimate adventures.

Philip Swarbrick has been a policeman, an illustrator and later the Head of Art History at New College, Swindon. He gave up this job in order to be able to devote himself fully to his passion of painting.

Exclusive Interview - Philip Swarbrick @ Adonis Art

An exhibition of your work is taking place at Adonis Art London. What can we expect?
Firstly, thank you for your kind interest in my work. In the forthcoming exhibition I was hoping to base most of my paintings on ancient Greece and Rome but when I started painting the complex architectural settings, I soon realised the task was too immense. I am currently putting more effort into drawings and sketches, which will comprise the main body of my artwork.

How would you describe your style?
Detailed depictions of real or imaginary homo eroticism.

There's a real voyeuristic element to your paintings and indeed, some of them show guys caught in the act while others stare directly out at the viewer. Are you trying to directly involve the audience in the sex and emotions of the scene?
Most definitely!

Your from South Africa and grew up under apartheid with its anti-gay laws. How did this affect your work and acceptance of your own sexuality?
Any sexual activity other than the passing of a penis through a vagina was a First Schedule Offence and carried a maximum of seven years imprisonment. I might mention the penis and vagina had to be of the same hue. Even a wank was classed as sodomy by the Calvinist regime. Any reference to homosexuality in my work was well off the menu. As for MY sexuality… I was foxy enough to corrupt even the most devout Born-Again-Christians without being caught.

The paintings are highly erotic, so what sort of guys do you prefer to paint?
I like painting muscular, well-built guys but the skinny twink-type guys also have beautiful bodies.

And in real life, what kind of guys do you go for?
Both of the above!

So, how do you find your models?
Mainly in pubs and clubs.

What is it about the male body rather than a clothed one that you find so attractive to paint?
Bums, backs and pecs…and the occasional dick but not too often.

The men in your work are usually dressed in tight shorts or leather trousers. Are you ever tempted to depict fully naked men?
This is why I chose to go for a Greco-Roman theme now. There will be plenty of naked bodies in my new work.

How does your sexuality influence your work?
To quote Tom of Finland: ‘If the painting isn’t wankable it’s not working.’ – or on a more serious note; my work reflects my manifold sexual idiosyncrasies.

Do you think it’s important for the gay community to see itself represented in art?
Yes…mind you there are those outside the gay community who also like a furtive glance at my work.

Okay, so where do you stand on the whole ‘gay art’ label. Is it a necessary genre of art or redundant ghettoising of painting in general?
If painting bright pink plump girls, Renoir ‘ghettoised’ heterosexuality, the same principal could apply to gay art…but then the cult of the heroic male in Greco-Roman times had a broad significance. Whether people in hindsight wish to re-classify this as gay-inspired or whatever, is of no real consequence.

You've been creating pictures for quite a while now. How has gay art changed during this time?
I see more of it and I am inspired!

And finally, what are your plans for the future?
To produce a few memorable works before I depart this life.

Adonis Art
1b Coleherne Road, London SW10 9BS UK
Phone (from US): 011 44 20 7460 3888
Phone (from UK): 020 7460 3888
Monday - Friday 10:30
AM - 6:30 PM
Saturday 10:30
AM - 5:00 PM

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