John Waiblinger: La Petite Mort, 2014

The male figure has to be one of the oldest figurative examples that we have in the visual arts, we have been drawing, painting, sculpting images of ourselves for endless generations. It is a never-ending fascination, and a never-ending understanding, with each successive generation of artists finding something new, something revelational, something fundamental to our understanding of self.

Requisitioning the male form, reinterpreting its beauty, its erotic strength, and its tender vulnerability, is something that intrigues the artist John Waiblinger. This is an artist that physically softens his compositions, blurring the lines of the male physique so that the form begins to ripple and fluctuate, sending waves outside of its constraints, way into the background of his compositions, where flowers and leaves abound. 

John Waiblinger: Gently I Hold You, 2014

John Waiblinger: Holding Your Flower, 2014

John Waiblinger: Kiss, 2012

John takes the overt sexuality of traditional maleness and turns it into a form of eroticism that is romantic in tone, firmly rooted in nature. There is almost a Victorian poetic tenderness to his pieces, a trailing hand across leaves, a tender foot across damp moss. These compositions ache with a pregnant moment of beauty and rich connection.

Nature is all pervasive in John's work. Nature weaves in and out of his male figures. Some of the men are near transparent, with leaves and flowers surrounding, silhouetting, and passing through them.

John's double figures, portraying lovers, are beautifully selected moments of connection, whether erotic, or of sentiment. These figures also have nature surrounding and passing through them. However, in the case of John's lover compositions, nature seems to have a more supportive role to play. Nature becomes in many respects a third lover, but more of a protective one, a lover that understands, fosters, and then envelops that love.

John Waiblinger: Beacon House Boy, 2016

John Waiblinger: Desert Kiss, 2013

John Waiblinger: Melancholy Summer #1, 2016

However, it would be a mistake to assume that John's work is placidly romantic, a Hallmark chaste platitude to love. John's work is intensely erotic, he says much with little. The grunt of sex maybe missing, but this is an artist that adds so much more. There is tenderness here, there is connection, understanding, sympathy, and ultimately humanity.

We are, as men, sexual and sexualised creatures, there is no denying that we rut with the best of them. But we are also poets, we have warmth, tragedy, tenderness, togetherness, we are feelings personified. A fingertip trail along an arm can do as much, if not more than a sexual thrust, and that is something that we so often forget or more tragically still, dismiss.

It is why artists such as John are so important, they help to remind us that there is so much more to being a man than filling a hole, producing an instant release, an instant ego, we are so much more than our next conquest.

John Waiblinger: Tender Masculinities #2, 2016

John Waiblinger: Kiss Me Tender, 2016

John Waiblinger: Despair, 2015

We should be men that are able to connect with our tenderness, with our flowered erotic natures. If we are a rutting ram, then we are also a delicate flower. If we are ever going to make this world a better place then we have to be aware of our full natures, not just the swaggering instant sex alpha male part that so many men are infinitely more comfortable with. We have to be able to understand and appreciate a faint smile, a hand laid softly, a murmured motion.

That many of John's figures derive from pornography, gives an added underlining of the artists deliberate attempt to shift perspective from the anonymity of pornography, the deliberate disconnectedness that pornography adopts and encourages, towards one where a fundamental connection is both encouraged and taken as a fundament.

John Waiblinger: Night Watch, 2015

John Waiblinger: Dark Night 1, 2017

John Waiblinger: Dark Night 2, 2017

Connectedness is something that we all share, but that we hardly ever admit to. The tenderness of that shared connection, that moment in time, the one that always seems intimately frozen, is something that pulses through all of John's work. It is his interpretation of tenderness towards another, which ultimately shows us a tenderness towards ourselves.

John Waiblinger: Dark Night 3, 2017

All work is copyrighted to the artist. Please ask permission before sharing imagery. Thank you.