Under the Dome of Heaven Crete to Georgia 2019

Exhibition  by Eureka "Under the Dome of Heaven" Midsumma Festival 2020 

Venue: Tacit Galleries 123a Gipps St Collingwood, Vic 3066 Melbourne Australia
Dates: Wednesday 22nd January 2020 to Sunday 2nd February  
OPENING NIGHT Wednesday 22nd January 630- 8PM

Time: 11AM to 5PM Free Admission 18 Plus, Warning Nudity 

International queer artist Eureka is back at Midsumma to share his queer exploration of the male portrait and of the spiritual traditions of eastern and central Europe. His subjects include queer men who took risks to sit for his photography and drawings

 As he spent time this summer drawing churches and mosques in Greece Slovakia Poland Germany Georgia and Turkey, he became aware that most religions in the region do not accept queer men, Eureka began to ask “Who is included under the Dome of Heaven?   The exhibition comprises photographs and drawings in response to this question. Eureka was inspired by the Greek poet Cavafy, the Greek visual artist Yannis Tsaroukis and the Polish artist Krzysztof Yung and his work also pays homage to them in both subject matter and colour choices.  Expect to see something different, be prepared for proud male nudity. All works are for sale as one-off drawings or limited-edition prints

Eureka (Michael James O’Hanlon) is an artist and queer activist who has completed artists’ residencies in Berlin in 2014, Venice in 2016, USA in 2017, Spain in 2018 and Greece in 2019. 

QUOTE: “I use artmaking to come out as a gay man, a continuing process to counter the assumptions of everyday life.
As a queer artist my mission is to find and expose those things hidden in plain sight for example the homo-eroticism in much Christian art.  In the world I am creating with queer men we proudly claim our place Under the Dome of Heaven

Under the Dome of Heaven is dedicated to persecuted queer people around the world


My meandering Summer of 2019 through Crete Athens Bratislava Berlin Leipzig Krakow Wroclaw Warsaw and Georgia the Country 

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C. P. Cavafy, “Ithaca” from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems  (Princeton University Press, 1975). Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

C. P. Cavafy
This poem by queer Greek poet C.P.Cavafy has inspired me throughout my meandering journeys in the European spring and summer of 2109,  beginning in Crete with an artists residency with Julienne at Event Horizions see.Artist in Residence Crete

I had been in Athens the year before and seen some magnificent icons from Crete in the Byzantine Museum, their beautiful pinks reds and golds inspiring me to seek out a residency there. I learnt that Crete was run by the Venetians for several centuries and the ikon painters had synthesized elements of catholic and orthodox styles, the most famous being El Greco who grew up on Crete and worked in Venice and Rome before settling in Spain. 

Presumed self portrait El Greco

 There is some evidence El Greco was gay,  addressed in this entertaining podcast  El Greco Gay

I organized a few days in Athens on my way to Crete  and visited the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation.   Yannis Tsarouchis, 1910-1989, was an important 20th-century Greek painter, whose work moved in two main directions: toward the orientalist and sensual, with strong influences from Matisse, and toward the ancient Greek ideal as expressed by the Renaissance and the Baroque movements, 
The foundation is located in Yannis' purpose built home and studio. While there are insufficient funds to house original works there in museum conditions you get a terrific idea of how he developed his work 

and the studio he built with an overhead skylight 

to produce these wonderful works of art 

So here is the dilemma I want to address in my work - the most important modern Greek poet and Painter are both clearly attracted to men and arguably the most important Greek contributor to Western Art was gay and yet the country is still governed largely by homophobic sentiments fueled by the Orthodox Church and conservative politicians

I want to start by copying some of the poses of Tsaroukis using photo-montage as the medium rather than painting . I discover he poses the figure most beautifully.

Julienne the Director at Events Horizon Crete artist residency found me a model Jean and I collect textures from the local landscape using the same palette Tsaroukis did.

 Here are some of the works in progress from that shoot

Tsaroukis arranges multiple figures in space, an ability I am working on since last years breakthrough piece of mine  "Nightwatch"

at times directly quoting  religious imagery and composition as in his modern Saint Sebastian using modern Greek soldiers not Roman ones

I have worked with a model in Poland to develop some multi figure compositions as a homage to Tsaroukis   These are works in progress and I still have many  technical issues to resolve

I am also exploring the nature of the Icon, how they represent an idealized masculine and feminine image.

My residency was about a queer exploration of the male portrait and of the Christian tradition.
with field trips to Cretan sites, drawing en plein air and inside churches, photography and life drawing. For more details about the residency see my Testimonial for Event Horizon
Left Greece for Berlin via Bratislava.  In Berlin I attended the Queering Memory conference

While in Berlin I undertook two photographic shoots at an East Berlin studio exploring portraiture and the expressive body.

I also visited the Schwules  Museum that had a m amazing exhibition of drawings and photographs  by Krzysztof  Yung a polish queer artist working in the 70's and 80' s in Poland during the Soviet Occupation 

Here is information about the exhibition from the Museum's site krzysztof-jung

The focus of our exhibition is Krzysztof Jung’s Sebastian series, inspired by Derek Jarman’s 1976 film. Saint Sebastian preoccupied Jung from the mid-1970s into the 1990s. Like Jarman, he was captivated by the male nude, by submission to pain. Jung’s drawings range from the most refined pencil hatching to feverish oil pastels, tender rose watercolours and precise ballpoint. But in his variations the surrender to death comes about without a single arrowhead. Death is passed over, invisible. As the human immunodeficiency virus raged in the West, first and foremost among gay men, the Iron Curtain shielded Polish homosexuals from it. We are left to wonder whether AIDS played a role in Jung’s Sebastian works. The only obvious connection is their contemporaneousness.

and some photgraphs I took 

In Leipzig -caught up with artist colleague from Seville Maria Kim who guided me through the burgeoning art scene and completed a photographic shoot with new model Sean
I then went to three cities in Poland Krakow Wroclaw and Warsaw.

In Krakow I visited the Jewish ghetto, in Wroclaw I explored the themes of identity and ancient heritage through photography of the live model, in Warsaw I visited the National Museum’s world class exhibition of Medieval art

In Georgia I stayed in Tbilisi and used it as a basis to explore orthodox churches and medieval monasteries in the region,

  I also drew and photographed 3 models.  t moving to Merisi in the Ajaria region i was living in a rural hamlet with a family of mixed orthodox Islamic tradition

Final stop was Turkey exploring mosques and churches and Turkish views of gender and the body

I am currently in Sydney completing work from this series to be exhibited at Tacit Galleries in Melbourne for Midsumma in a queer friendly nudity friendly space.