tramps-l'oeil (2011)

by M H

"tramps-l'oeil" is a dialogue of over a year's worth of appropriated photos from a niche community and companion paintings and drawings.

Full Description

Currently the project consists of over 200 paintings and drawings displayed via tumblr. The majority are a combination of marker, ink and gouache on Moleskine notebook paper, though several are acrylic or oil paintings. They range in size from 2x3" to 17x11".

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2011
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Thursday Dec 27th, 2012
  • Original Url: http://tramps-loeil.tumblr.com/
  • Work Credits:
    • everyoneisugly, primary creator
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Artist Statement

In this ongoing project, I paint as an anonymous persona, with my only public interactions being paintings and drawings that mirror viral content. To connect with a niche community, in this case the tumblr fashion fandom, I paint sexualized yet androgynous male models on a weekly basis using traditional media. In addition, I maintain a private correspondence with fans as well as photographers and models who have found the blog through my acknowledgement of my sources. Through open appropriation in a safe space, the effect is disarming, even though my audience knows little of my identity.

After sampling several niche communities, I found the tumblr fashion fandom to be the most immediately responsive and intimate. My target demographic is primarily 16-21 year old American youth, with a heavy slant towards LGBT youth. Though they know little about me, including my own gender, they are sincere in their interactions with my persona. This comes as a surprising contrast to such "superficial" content- fashion editorials, runway photos, and model cards. I monitor their shared content daily, both to source images but also to have a sense of their tone and interests. The titles for my paintings are frequently drawn from the favorite books, songs, movies, and television shows of my audience. I use Moleskine notebooks as my primary surface of choice in order to connect with that fandom.

Additionally, I work to transform my source material, validating the male models frequently chosen for their anonymous good looks with the affection of a considered portrait. A number of models have found the blog while searching their own names, and all have responded positively. Whether it is a matter of their own vanity or a sense of an emotionally sincere connection is debatable, but all overlook the inherently invasive nature of such an obsessive project. One has printed his portrait for his mother, one uses his as his Facebook profile photo, another requested his after I painted several of his friends, and so on. The photographers of my source material have also been surprisingly supportive. Those who have found the blog through my tags have thanked me and shared the paintings on their own blogs.

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