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Robert Flynt has spent the last decade making surreal and sensual photo-montages of the male nude. His figures seem to exist in an ethereal, weightless and sometimes threatening environment. Using an underwater camera, Flynt captures the improvised movements of his swimming dancer-collaborators. Submerged bodies are frozen while performing evocative and hauntingly beautiful choreography.





Untitled, 1990
Cibachrome
40 x 30 inches

Overlapped or underlayed in each photograph are images drawn from a variety of sources: anatomy charts, first aid textbooks, astronomical maps, 19th century etchings, x-rays, menswear catalogues, furniture illustrations, and ancient Roman sculpture.





Drawing from this well of underwater figures and found images, Flynt conjures up multi-faceted visions using unorthodox darkroom techniques. By juxtaposing his figures with these found images, he strives to look at the male body in a fresh context and in so doing creates, in his words,
"a jangling dialog" that will suggest new meanings to the viewer.

 

 

 

Untitled, 1990
chromogenic photograph
20 x 24 inches

Untitled, 1991
chromogenic print
24 x 20 inches

With the AIDS epidemic Flynt has focused his attention on the heightened anxieties of gay men. His photographs are immersed in the subjects of sex and mortality. In early works, icons of "socially acceptable" male behavior are contrasted with the homoerotic. In later photographs, male couples wrestle and copulate in ambiguous poses, suggesting the psychological complexity of both heterosexual and homosexual male relationships. Erotic tension and sexual ecstasy are ironically paired with their opposites: struggle and the potential for violence.





Fading, distorted, out-of-focus men seem to be Flynt's metaphorical reminders of the ephemeral, transitory nature of the physical body and the fragility of the spirit. In some photographs, figures converge with deceased ancestors or ancient art. Floating bodies share space with planetary bodies and celestial heavens. These are poetic meditations on our connections to the past and our place in an infinite cosmos.





Flynt's darkroom explorations have also resulted in images with a wry sense of humor. One photograph that incorporates stiffly illustrated trousers and shirts with a seated, headless couple, is surprisingly reminiscent of the Egyptian Colossus of Memnon. Lighted by a spelunker's torch, a properly dressed gentleman and his lady, in a vast subterranean cave, are unexpectedly confronted by an apparition of two bare-torsoed men.




In another photograph, two naked young men rough-house on a bed that looks as if came from the Cleaver or Nelsen family home. In a more recent work, a marble sculpture of a Roman soldier poses provocatively, almost appearing to come to life, as he gazes appreciatively at an attractive youth who is napping unawares.





Although Flynt's art elicits a wide range of emotional responses from the viewer, few gay men will have trouble understanding the familiar visual language. His work takes us to the deep end of our psychic pool where we navigate the complex and ambiguous waters of our lives: our bodies, our relationships, our sexuality, our mortality.

 

-V.M.

 

Untitled, 1993
unique chromogenic photograph
8 x 10 inches
Untitled, 1993
unique chromogenic photograph
8 x 10 inches

Untitled, 1993
chomogenic photograph
24 x 20 inches

Untitled, 1993
chromogenic photograph
24 x 20 inches

Untitled, 1993
chomogenic photograph
24 x 20 inches

Untitled, 1994
color ink-jet print
30 x 37 inches

Untitled, 1996
cibachrome photograph
30 x 40 inches


Untitled, 1996
chromogenic photograph
24 x 20 inches


Vance Martin is a curator and fine art photography dealer based in San Francisco. Questions regarding Robert Flynt's work can be directed to: flynt@vancemartin.com.

Publication Available:

Compound Fracture
by Robert Flynt

Flynt's photographs of male nudes underwater employ a range of printing techniques to produce haunting images of poetic beauty: with sixty-two four color plates.