Advisory: Some of the works in this exhibition contain full-frontal male nudity
In this exhibition, Malaysian artists Eiffel Chong (b. 1977) and James Seet (b. 1970) offer viewers untraditional forms of viewing the male nude, which Western patriarchy has understood in conventional, male-centric ways. The depiction of the unclothed male body in art has, until the advent of the sexual revolution in the twentieth century, been framed within normative discourses. The tropes are familiar: statuesque men actively posturing, eroticized women in passive poses.
The gendered tropes of art reveal a lot about societal expectations for men to adopt roles of masculinity and invulnerability. Eiffel negates this prejudice via his photographic works of young bodies in a state of contemplation and reverie. His subjects exude a strong sense of elevated thought, beyond the drudgery of social conformity and, more importantly, the burden of mortality. The works are an extension of Eiffel’s mindfulness towards his own mortality and reverence of youth.
James positions his nude sculptures as a celebration of the human form without pretence. Elemental to him is the link between form and thought. His process explores the inner thought that balances line, curves and the intentional unfinished markings made by his hand. For him, this body of work represents a personal conversation with Rodin, through the traditions of sculpture, in hopes of forming a temporal connection with the master.
Both set of works come together to examine representations of the nude male body in art, and hopefully to confute the discomfort towards vulnerability in men.