|Photo by Rink.
Magnet, the gay-bi menâ€™s hub of health and social wellbeing, is currently featuring in its gallery the sensual male nude oil paintings of Christopher Michael. The artist has been in the Castro for ten years. He started painting when he was 33 â€“ seven years ago. He had never had any art classes before, but released â€śa big, pent-up desireâ€ť to paint, and took lessons in nude pastel work. He learned multiple layering â€“ a Flemish technique from the old Renaissance masters â€“ from Kirstine Reiner. He would start off with a sketch of a live model on the canvas, then paint a brown and white layer, then after it was fully dried, add the color layers. All the paintings are from this year, unless otherwise noted. I will now take you on a tour, starting at far left and working towards the right.
â€śThe Baronâ€™s Boys â€“ Pangaeaâ€ť (2007) with one nude facing, the other leaning against him with a backside view, is based on a piece by one of the first gay photographers, Baron Von Guten, a German in Sicily from late 19th century. It has been sold and will be shipped to Miami. But you can enjoy it through December, along with all the others.
â€śYes, Torsoâ€ť is a full frontal nude. It is a friend who Michael has known from high school. â€śI donâ€™t know what to say about it. Heâ€™s sexy,â€ť he told me. When asked has he had sex with his models, he said discreetly, â€śI have had sex with at least one of these people â€“ which is me.â€ť When asked what the title meant, he explained a female friend saw it and exclaimed, â€śYes!!!â€ť
â€śGregoryâ€ť is a friend he painted with a different technique â€“ using high contrast, so the body turns red hot and the background turns cold blue or purple. â€śBy Matchlightâ€ť (2003) is a shadow box structure, where Michael took a picture of himself with a lit lighter. It is slightly reminiscent of Goya. There is a dark, peasant look to it. He elaborated that in â€śSelf-Portrait Nudeâ€ť there was â€śa nice, genteel kind of green Victorian staircase behind me; but I decided to heat the whole thing up with this red color to make it somewhat ominous.â€ť He added, â€śItâ€™s almost like thereâ€™s a pit of fire behind me.â€ť When I noted he seemed well hung in the piece, he joked, â€śMy friend thinks I added some, but Iâ€™m not gonna say.â€ť
In â€śAlbert-Sphinx,â€ť notice how the layers and depth give almost a 3-D effect. It was posed outside in his back yard on a deck. He said he would be giving the piece to the model when the show is over.
In â€śTomasâ€ť (2005), notice the particularly protruding phallic bedpost on the left, compensating for the lack of the customarily visible penis in his portraits - the modelâ€™s crotch modestly covered by red cloth.
â€śAlbert-Oil Studyâ€ť uses the same model as number 6. â€śItâ€™s sort of a looser style, where I didnâ€™t have to be so meticulous and simply enjoyed doing it,â€ť Michael said. â€śBlue Boysâ€ť (2007) is one other that is not from a live model but from a magazine, modified from the original, especially with the rich cobalt blue background added. â€śSelf-Portrait with Holesâ€ť was done in the Armstrong Woods. â€śI decided to put holes in my body, so you could see the mountains and the sky through my body,â€ť he said. When I suggested it could be suggestive of Doubting Thomas pressing his fingers in the holes of the crucified Christ, he only replied, â€śVery interesting observation. Go for it!â€ť Just my Catholic upbringing popping out, I guess. â€śLooking back, it could possibly be about recovery and the holes in my mind and body,â€ť he said. â€śBut Iâ€™m all healed up now.â€ť â€śPatrick Recliningâ€ť is his friend on a bed, which struck him as a great pose to paint.
His philosophy in life involves â€śnot thinking about the future too much and just doing what I can do now.â€ť He plays harpsichord and composes music as well. He recently married his husband, George Becker, in July. â€śGeorge has been extremely supportive of all of this,â€ť said Michael. His spirituality revolves around â€śnot being isolated, and making sure Iâ€™m part of society. Getting over my shyness. Making good friends in town.â€ť He added, â€śInstead of painting all these pieces and keeping them hidden in my house, I want to share them with other people.â€ť He concluded, â€śThese paintings are like my children. I work really hard on them, and then I want them to go live somewhere else. I want someone else to adopt my paintings.â€ť Might I suggest art lovers (especially of hot naked men) check out Christopher Michaelâ€™s gorgeous works and perhaps adopt one of their own?!