Goff + Rosenthal is pleased to present an exhibition of new drawings by Scott Hunt entitled “That Sticky Candy”. This is Hunt’s second exhibition in New York.
To find source material for his drawings, Hunt scours flea markets for discarded snapshots and then borrows elements from these anonymous pictures—a figure, a bit of architecture, a family pet or lawn ornament—and invents a new narrative around which he constructs the drawing. The casual and found nature of Hunt’s source material allows the artist to imbue the drawings with intensely enigmatic and mysterious subject matter. The viewer encounters a vision of America that is at once sympathetic, humorous and apocalyptic. Hunt’s influences are diverse: Edward Hopper, Charles Addams, John Singer Sargent, Balthus, Paul Cadmus, Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Frank among them.
This series of charcoal drawings is different in that it focuses on gay history and identity both from a deeply personal point of view and a critical, historical vantage point. In searching for source material at flea markets Hunt discovered a subculture of buyers and sellers of anonymous “Gay Interest” photographs—almost uniformly of men in various stages of undress, including but not limited to: shirtless army buddies embracing, anybody in a bathing suit, wrestlers, soldiers defecating, bodybuilders and cross dressers.
Hunt found this notion of what appeals to gay men both intriguing and annoying. Despite acknowledging some truth to an intrinsic gay interest in this material he also found the themes limited and constricting. Says Hunt:
“This duality made me want to explore and challenge commonly held, modern American ideas about what it means to be a gay man and what it is that interests us as a group. I try to look at this through the lens of self-identification as well as the perception of others. The themes I’m addressing are sexual identity, non-sexual same-sex intimacy, the eventual boredom of hypersexualization, homophobia’s impact on straight male physicality, intellectualism vs. carnality, the loss of gay culture, the blurring of outsider status, our relationship with female idolatry, the symbols that telegraph gender, ageism, and gay role playing.”
As with his earlier work these drawings subvert their ostensible subject matter. Yet in lieu of a surreal element Hunt has opted to tackle the theme of homosexuality without demure or closeted strategies often associated with gay subject matter in art. In doing so one discovers that this direct approach to homosexuality and gay male sexuality in visual art is, in a way, surreal as well. Despite certain works by Cadmus, Warhol’s male nudes and Mapplethorpe’s X Porfolio series overt gay sexual imagery remains taboo in the art world—and in the art market such work is considered “difficult” (ie, unsalable). But by interspersing “difficult” images such as full-frontal male nudity (a profile of a nude African American man transposed into Balthus’ studio, for example) and transgender identity (the largest drawing is of a drag queen, Madame XY) Hunt succeeds in casting a light onto another under-explored part of American history and consciousness.
“That Sticky Candy” refers to a line in Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (Anthony Burgess translation). Cyrano refers to success as an artist (a poet) as “that sticky candy”, alluding to the pratfalls of commercial success. For Hunt the title refers to the idea that the desire for commercial/public recognition is constricting and potentially leads to a kind of self-censorship. It also has a more sexual undertone: “The sticky candy metaphor speaks to me of how something that one might crave and be pleasured by can become messy and constricting. Gay men have been yoked to this idea that we are hypersexual beings and I’m trying to point out how limiting that is—a gay identity is infinitely more complex and broad than that.”