Video Dialogue: Juan Gomez at The Dikeou Collection

Friday July 22, 2016
Video Dialogue: Juan Gomez. Organized by Saniego Sanchez and Jenna Maurice
at the Dikeou Collection, 1615 California St, 5th Floor, 7-9pm, videos start promptly at 7:25pm

As a verb, “muse” is to consider something thoughtfully, an instance or period of reflection. As a noun a muse is, in most scenarios, a woman who is the catalyst of inspiration for a creative individual. Greek in its origin, The Muses were the nine daughter goddesses of Zeus and Mnemosyne who stirred creativity and enlightenment in literature, science, and the arts. Their powers have endured, dwelling within the souls of women and men alike throughout history and sparking the creative brilliance inside the artist with whom they attach themselves. The muse depicted in Juan Gomez’ Share series at Dikeou Collection is not your typical supple-bodied female with a come hither stare. She is intensely active and confidently aware of a voyeuristic presence in the midst of her sordid activities. Gomez’ muse contradicts the stereotypical attributes of traditional depictions of the subject, but she is still the embodiment of creative inspiration and artistic energy. 

Created in 1997, the ten drawings that comprise Share originally appeared in issue 10 of zingmagazine . The muse features solo in five images. Whether it’s expressively posing with her hands and feet bound, or with a flower vase, or anticipating her next erotic maneuver, her fierce energy is palpable beneath her subdued exterior. In the additional five drawings, Gomez’ muse is hurled into a frenzy of sexual activity, where her body and that of her partner(s) coalesce into a carnal blur. Here Gomez’ dexterous handling of movement and form pulls the viewer in to look closer at each composition, teasing them to decipher the tangle of bodies. 

Artists’ relationships with their muses are as varied as the artworks that result from them. Often the artist and the muse are romantically involved, either as husband and wife like Ada and Alex Katz, or as an extramarital affair like that of Marie-Thérèse Walter and Pablo Picasso. The muse is sometimes an artist as well, like Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Naturally same-sex relationships exist in the artist/muse dynamic. Romaine Brooks painted numerous portraits of her partner Natalie Barney, and performance artist Leigh Bowery was the subject for some of Lucien Freud’s best paintings and influenced numerous other artists in various mediums like Boy George, Alexander McQueen, and Lady Gaga. 

In the case of Gomez and his muse, the two were romantically involved. The intimate bond shared between them is evident in the muse’s openness with her body and in the artist’s bold, confident line work. Though explicit, the drawings are signifiers of trust and how meaningful relationships are maintained through a balance of light and dark. 

On July 22, Dikeou Collection’s Video Dialogue Series will focus on Juan Gomez’ Share series and explore the abject videos that exist on major platforms like Youtube and Vimeo, which are known for their strident terms of content. The screening will feature audience-generated content, so if you’d like to suggest a video for inclusion, email the link to dc.videodialogue@gmail.com. 

- Hayley Richardson