Just what draws gay men to draw gay men? And ‘male art’: do you buy it? OutUK's Adrian Gillan drops his kegs to discuss the fine line between fine art and pure porn with the Gay Artists Group and Adonis Art.


“I define porn as being images that set out to sexually excite the viewer and to stimulate masturbation,” concurs Stuart Hardman, owner of Adonis Art, the gallery in Earl’s Court in West London, which claims to be the world’s only commercial gallery to exclusively feature art of the male form.
“However,” he continues, “erotic art covers a vast range of work involving the sensuality of the human body. It undoubtedly sets out to stimulate many feelings, including sexual, but its primary purpose is not to induce masturbation.”

He cautions: “Having made this distinction, I know it is increasingly difficult to draw the line, and I'm not so sure that it is necessary to draw a line anyway.”

“Definitions of pornography are always changing and the regulators of this world are always trying to find ways to prevent other people from expressing themselves sexually. Porn is very definitely in the eyes of the regulators - they have to see it to ban it,” Stewart suggests provocatively.

"Park Bench" by Myles Antony
Adonis Art
“I don't consider the vast majority of artworks I sell to be pornographic,” he continues. “I doubt they are primarily used to stimulate masturbation. However, all erotic art has the capability of heightening sexual awareness and I suppose there are some situations in which sexual activity may result. It doesn't make them pornographic however.”

“Some artists whose work I sell can be sexually very explicit”, he rallies,“Roger Payne and some Myles Antony pictures for instance. These are themselves depictions of sexual activity and may well be viewed as pornography. And certainly, from my point of view, I have no wish to prevent people being sexually stimulated if they so want to be.”

He agrees with our artist Bernard: “Paintings, drawings and sculptures and such have less of a reputation for being porn than photos or videos because the latter are mass produced and cheap whereas the former are relatively rare and relatively expensive. Also pornographic images are consumed very quickly and people using them are always looking for new images. That said, photos and videos can be art.” "Look At Me" by Roger Payne
Adonis Art
So it’s art but is it gay art?

“I don't know what ‘gay art’ is, except as some kind of label to describe my business - art that will be mainly bought by gay men,” says Stewart significantly. “I think of the works I sell as art of the male form. This sounds a bit high-flown, but it's the essential definition for my business, and it enables me to draw a line between the type of work I will sell, and other work I will not consider. My definition enables me to show work by women and straight male artists, who have produced work featuring the male form, though their work can hardly be considered as ‘gay art’.”

“Most of my customers are gay men but I do have a small but increasing number of women customers,” Stewart explains. “Which is just as well, since even a city as large as London struggles to support a gallery dedicated to the male form in art. Now I do about 70% of my business on the internet, and without this increasingly global trade I would not survive.”



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