Who were erotic playing cards made for? Did anyone actually use them to play cards or were they just a joke prop for parties or only reserved for concealed masturbation inspiration? Whatever their purpose, they have become sexual and cultural relics. For artist Adrian Gilliland, they’ve become the inspiration for a series of paintings.
The paintings are blown up representations of these sexy men. They’re looks are bygone articulations of sex appeal and likely look like old photos of your father. All but one of the men seem to have an uncomfortable relationship with their penis and with presenting themselves in this light: nothing about the image or its being a playing card is sexy except for the idea of it having to be sexy. To add further irony, these sexy men appear on queen cards.
As you can see with Gilliland’s other work, he likes to focus on gay men (and their ephemera, from dogs to magazines) in addition to men in forced positions of beauty like portrait sessions and photo shoots from decades passed. In doing this, viewers have to decide if these men are actually being sexy or are just sexy or if it is just a man without any affiliation of sexualness. They’re also funny.
The body of work appeared in Del Vaz Projects’ recently closed Joshing The Watershed group show that sought to question structure and form we find ourselves comfortable with. These cards fit in because they are a play on those classic erotic playing cards—and what we assume to be sexuality. They’re a great little group of blown up paintings and, for any gay dude, something to be desired.