nigel kent

photo © pjer vriens

Nigel Kent was born in 1933 in Australia, and studied art in Sydney before leaving for England in 1959 to build a career as an artist.

"I was one of the first blokes on the leather scene in London," Kent recalls. "It was all behind closed doors in those days. There were only a few of us. Things are a lot different nowadays!

"I was brought up in a very puritanical way," Kent continues, "so when I first encountered the scene I had a lot of trouble from a morality point of view. What right had I to bash some guy up and enjoy it? Then I discovered that it wasn't a matter of right or wrong. It's a matter of self-acceptance."

Kent moved to Amsterdam in 1973, delving deeper into the leather and S/M scenes, feeling right at home in this new world -­ and the role of a Master.

"The cold Dutch climate and leather go very well together," Kent observes. "I like the winter darkness -­ the light in Australia is too clear for me."

In 1978 he began making homoerotic drawings under the pseudonym of James D. He got to know RoB, and quite soon was having his first exhibition at RoB's gallery.

"In my first exhibition at the RoB Gallery, I was shown alongside Tom of Finland, who without a doubt was the most celebrated leather-oriented, homoerotic artist of our time. The consistency of his technical style and his enormous output speak for themselves. The character known as ŒKakeč in particular, with his insatiable lustful cravings, sure gives me those down-under stirrings!

"I remember my first reactions to Tom's work extremely well. I was at a gay brunch in London and some very illicit (for those days) copies of Kake were handed around. I laughed -­ with a kind of absurd embarrassment -­ as we all did back then.

"Then I got a terrific stiff cock. Those bloody great dicks were just too much for this innocent Aussie. Still, you must take into account that the year was 1961 and I had just recently arrived in London!"

Inspired by Tom of Finland's work, Kent put aside his work in sculpture and turned to drawing. "I said to myself, I can do that too," and the subsequent sale of his first drawing lifted the artist out of a severe depression.

During the next twelve years Kent, now working under his own name, created a large body of S/M drawings, erotic postcards, portraits of leathermen, and -­ last but not least -­ his "still life" images of male crotches. A growing list of exhibitions followed­first in Holland, then throughout Europe, and eventually the United States. The artist's work also appeared in leading S/M magazines such as Drummer, Toy and Mr. SM.

Kent left Amsterdam for Antwerp, Belgium, in 1990 to establish himself as a Constructivist, and had a successful career at it. In Antwerp Kent suffered an accident that affected his work. "I fell down some stairs moving studios and did my back in and it slowed me down a bit," he relates. "You see, I work standing up -­ I get quite horny you know -­ I always work standing up, and quite often I am naked."

During the latter part of the artist's stay in Belgium, the Gulf Crisis occurred and the art world collapsed. Kent returned to Amsterdam in 1993, where, encouraged by his partner, he continued to make erotic drawings. Janssen Press published a book of Kent's drawings titled "Der Mann in Kunst" in 1994.

Kent is also a published author. Writing under the nom de plume "Dik Staal," his erotic stories have been published in France, Germany and America. Kent unapologetically describes his writing as "truly pornographic" -­ executed solely for the physical arousal of the reader. Conversely, he characterizes his drawings as "erotic" -­ they are made to appeal to the imagination.

Home, for Kent, is the Netherlands. "There's an enormous camaraderie here in Amsterdam," he says. "I like the leather guys here. You don't have to say 'Hello' all the time, but it's still a special feeling." He has never returned to his native Australia.

Technical perfection in both anatomy and detail is a defining characteristic of Kent's work. Quite often, however, the face is absent in the image. The reason for this is not, as often assumed, to lend an anonymous, and therefore tougher, character to the drawing. Instead, it allows the viewer the opportunity to enter the fantasy world that he is viewing.

Kent is regarded as one of the most important artists working in the leather and S/M genre. The quality of his drawings is unusually high, and has been compared to the work of his friend, Bastille, also well known for his male erotica. Two older, influential artists for whom Kent has great respect are Domino and Rex.

"My work is an autobiography that reflects thirty years of sexual experiences." ­- Nigel Kent

list of exhibitions

Mixed show, exhibited with Tom of Finland, Gallery RoB AMSTERDAM.
Mixed Exhibition with Gallery RoB in "SEKSUALITEIT" fair, Rotterdam, Holland.

One-man show, STEEN IMPRESSIES, gallery RoB AMSTERDAM.
Mixed Show, Gallery RoB AMSTERDAM.
Christmas Show, artists of the gallery RoB AMSTERDAM.

Mixed show, gallery RoB AMSTERDAM.
One-man show, DEAR MASTER, RoB gallery, BA Charles Lane, The Village, New York, U.S.A.
Mixed show, RoB NEW YORK, U. S. A.
One-man show, FOCUS , RoB AMSTERDAM.
Mixed show, RoB AMSTERDAM.

One-man show, VIEWS OF KENT - RoB NEW YORK.
One-man show, FOCUS '81, RoB NEW YORK.
Mixed exhibition, MEN, Gallery Paradox, Ghent, Belgium.
One-man show, Hotel I.T.C., Prinsengracht, Amsterdam.
Mixed show, RoB NEW YORK.

One-man show, restaurant Les Diables, Amsterdam.
Mixed show, Paris Gallery, Paris, France.
One-man show, A PUBLIC PLACE, Jacques bar, Warmoesstraat, Amsterdam.
One-man show, CHAPS, at the bar Chaps, Eindhoven, Holland.
One- man show, HARD CORE LEATHER, Amsterdam.
Mixed show, SUMMER EXPO, Gallery The Basement, Prince Street, New York, U.S.A.

One-man show, HEATH PARTY, Heaven [the cellar bar], LONDON, England.
One-man show, NIEUW, RoB AMSTERDAM.

Mixed exhibition, RoB AMSTERDAM.

AN ORIGINAL LEGEND, April's Bar, Amsterdam.

One-man show, Galerie Anderes Ufer, Berlin, Germany.

One-man show, Galerie Janssen, Berlin, Germany.

Mixed exhibition, EROTIC MUSEUM, Amsterdam.

One-man show, NIGEL KENT- RECENT WORK, RoB Gallery, Amsterdam.
Works on show via RoB Gallery Amsterdam, Leather party COC, Amsterdam.

Works on show via MR B Amsterdam, GAY FAIR Lifestyle-Beurs.
VOOR LESBIENNES EN HOMO'S, Bouwcentrum Antwerpen, Belgium.
Works on show via MR B Amsterdam, DIE MESSE ZUM CSD 1995, COLOGNE.
One-man show, BLACK AND BLUE, MR B Amsterdam.
Works on show via MR B Amsterdam, HOMO EXPO, Leiden, Holland. Exhibition via MR B Amsterdam.
Mixed show at MR B Amsterdam.

Works on show at MR B, Amsterdam.
Exhibition at The Tom of Finland Company Gallery, Los Angeles.
Works on show at MR B Amsterdam.
Works on show at De EROS '96, Rotterdam via MR B.

Four man exhibition, TATTOO, at MR B, Amsterdam.
GAY ART - NIGEL KENT in MR B. PINK [Gay] TV, Amsterdam.

Exhibition, [no title], of new work at MR.B., Amsterdam.