Decoupages d’hommes at forty five downstairs gallery Melbourne

 Découpages d’hommes
 is artist Eureka’s (Michael James O’ Hanlon) debut solo gallery exhibition in the CBD of Melbourne  held at fortyfivedownstairs Gallery Melbourne
from 19th to 30th January 2016. 

Eureka explores the political, emotional and spiritual elements of the male figure in his work, addressing such contradictions such as the centrality of the male nude to renaissance and Counter Reformation art contrasted with contemporary anxieties about exhibiting the male nude.

The exhibition opened  Tuesday 19th January 2016 at fortyfive downstairs gallery 45 Flinders  Lane Melbourne CBD.

Here is the video of my artist's talk that includes footage of how the exhibition was installed.
Artitst's Talk

Opening Night Speech with Artistic Director fortyfivedownstairs Mary Lou Jelbart

Compostie image both sides of exhibition invitation and poster designed  by Anya Nha Tran 

The work was exhibited as an installation with the central wall composed in the style of a counter reformation chapel 

 It concluded  with an Artist's talk hosted by  Domi Córdoba Art Curator and Finissage at 2PM on the 30th January 2016

Exhibition Statement   prepared by

by Domi Córdoba
Melbourne-based queer artist, Eureka – aka Michael James O’Hanlon – re-configures representations of male nudes and re-constructs them within contemporary discourses of masculinity by depicting them in Post-Tridentine settings.

His artistic approach explores how the propinquity of modern male nudes is reconsidered devoid of fear and dogma and how it challenges audiences’ resistance to the carnal. Eureka’s imagery of male nudes is informed by Bergerian distinction between nakedness and nude

His art invites thoughts about the increasingly trivial and artificial depiction of male nudes and ask us to interrogate ourselves on what it means to inhabit our bodies, regardless of their gender and of gender-driven discourses.

Central to his creative process is representation of male nudes set against architectural backdrops with clear references to Renaissance and Baroque temples.  In employing photo-montage as a medium of artistic expression, Eureka seems to make figures transcend from time and space and thus unite in a sole composition. This is eloquently depicted by the way in which spatial equilibrium is shared between the fore-and back-grounds

Inspired by his visits to European temples and museums and motivated by his own experiences at an international artist in residency program at Agora Berlin, Eureka’s depictions of the nude male body are designed to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, to reflect on our diversity and vulnerability in the naked state ,to confront viewers’ own carnal desires and in doing so approach the sublime

 Eureka, as a queer artist educated in the Roman Catholic faith and Australia’s settler culture, de-canonises the male ‘body’ within such a theatrical setting.  He strips off dogmatic formulations to confront modern anxieties about the unclothed male.

About the artworks

The work was first produced in Berlin during an artist’s residency at Agora Collective from March to June 2014 and subsequently in country Victoria and his studio at the Abbotsford Convent Melbourne. It was influenced by Eureka’s exposure to European Renaissance and Counter-reformation portraiture and the architecture of Berlin Munich Prague Dresden and Lisbon. The works are photomontages presented in printed form, representing a merging of his previous professional work collaborating with architects designing public buildings and with the male figure in his art practice.

The images are composed of a central Male figure highlighted using light and selective colour, backgrounded with architectural features for texture and form that explores the political, emotional and spiritual contexts of the male body.  

Background architectural  images and found textures were taken in the following cities
Berlin  15 March to 24th June 2014
Hamburg 11to 13th April 2014
Prague   9-12th May 2014
Dresden 19-21st June 2014
Munich 24 June to 30th June
Marseilles 1 to 2July 
Arles 3rd  July 
Oporto 4 to 6July 
Lisbon  6 to 10 July
Madrid 10 to 11 July 2014

The final selection comprised 19 C-type photographs numbered limited editions of 8 of various dimensions featuring models photgrraphed in Agora studios Berlin and  the Abbotsford Convent Melbourne. 

Press coverage 

weekly newspaper Melbourne 

GLBTIQ Joy Radio Melbourne

Finissage and Artist Talk: Saturday 2pm January 30th  
To be facilitated by Domi Córdoba

In his artist talk, Eureka will formally introduce himself as a queer artist, sharing his experience of the Melbourne and Berlin arts scene.  He will be presenting his current collection and sharing the processes that he had gone through in creating the exhibition as well as work he is creating in his studios at the Abbotsford Convent. The exhibited works were selected from photographic sessions with 20 models in Berlin Melbourne and Sydney and combined with architectural backgrounds from Berlin Munich Prague Dresden and Lisbon.  He will reflect on his motivation and the difficulties encountered in making and exhibiting the work.  There will also be a Question and Answer session and a networking session at the end of the talk.

“Every time I exhibit a naked male image and I publically acknowledge my desire for other men I challenge the patriarchy which prefers to keep its phallic power hidden without comparison or comment. My work is energized by the juxtaposition of things that are conveniently separated but in practice highly related for example by combining religious and erotic elements. I bring all my life experience and all my skills and knowledge from social work business and the arts into my work

Eureka will be registering his exhibition in the MIdsumma Festival guide and working with fortyfivedownstairs to print and mail out invitations to his exhibition... Eureka will promote his work on Joy Radio 3CR Community Radio and the Queer press as well as his blog and Facebook.

Eureka acknowledges the generous assistance of  RMIT University Curatorial students Anya Nha Tran and Hazwany Razali who have helped him find a suitable venue, prepare budgets and marketing plans refine the exhibition concept and will help him prepare and hang the works
I have worked extensively with architects designing public buildings such as libraries childcare centres and community hubs. While travelling in Morocco and Europe I came across amazing buildings and I thought how much I would like to pose the nude male figure in them.

This body of work juxtaposes  a nude male figure into unexpected places  - a church, a palace, an ancient granary- places that by contrast highlight the beauty and athleticism of the male form
Each work contains 
  • a central poised male figure
  • is manipulated by the use of light and selective colour
  • contains distinctive architectural features 

model Berlin Texture Prague

model Berlin Texture Dresden
The artist would like to thank the team who have collaborated with him to make the exhibition possible

Anya Nha Tran Graphics and Project Management

Hazwany Razali Promotion and Event Management

Kris Tremellen Studio Assistant

Domi Córdoba M.A.Concept Development and Curatorial Support

Greg Bork Image Selection and Technical support

Conor O'Hanlon  live performance sound recording and video, installation 

Glendyr O'Hanlon   Installation and transport 

Jill Bilston and  Diane O'Dwyer Publicity 

The models in Berlin and Melbourne courageous enough to have their images exhibited

forty five downstairs gallery

has accepted this proposal for exhibition in January 2016 coinciding with Midsumma giving me the opportunity to fulfil a long time ambition of mine to exhibit at one of Melbourne's most distinguished galleries in the heart of the Flinders Lane art precinct. Thanks to Anya Nha Tran final year curatorial studies student at RMIT who has helped me develop the concept and  secure a suitable gallery. Sponsors models and volunteers most welcome to help make it happen
    Update July 2015
      I am busy shooting models for the series more shoots this week. I am advertising on Star Now and Model Mayhem. While I have had many enquiries about two thirds drop out when they realize that full frontal nudity may be required or alternatively they are happy to pose fully nude but want more cash.
        The cash I understand - I turn down consulting or teaching work if it is not well paid enough although I do feel uncomfortable with seeing myself as someone who has to persuade people to take off their clothes for more and more cash .. 
        The fear men have of exposing their penis is clearly deeply ingrained in our society even though many models are approaching physical perfection in every sense and have everything to be proud of. 
          I have met with forty five downstairs - like any curators the have their vision for the show that I have to engage with .. for example they have suggested a fourth criteria for selecting the images
          "that the image looks as if it could actually have been taken in the space that I have in the background"
          To me this is a strange suggestion I am not interested in replicating reality but transcending it
          I  have been reading a history of the manipulated image.
          There are some amazing quotes that help me understand the curator's suggestion I should make my photography as ' real' as possible because culturally that is where the photographic image has its most power
          We hold on to the belief that the photograph is the most real of all media- In Camera Veritas
           In reality though every photograph is mediated by the view of the photographer,  the technology of the camera  and the post production decisions. The book  "Faking It" shows how this has happened throughout the history of photography despite claims otherwise
          "We constantly tend to misuse or misunderstand the term reality in reference to photographs. The photograph itself is the only thing that is real"
          Heinecken 1967 in Faking it Manipulative Photography before Photoshop by  Mia Fineman 2012.
          This images of a model posed
          against the ceilings I photographed in Europe could not conceivably be real but nevertheless has impact 


        Print media 

         Extract from article 

        Built on Berlin bodies
        STARWEEKLY.COM.AU    NEWS                                                                                                                            JANUARY 20TH 2016

        Queer  artist  Eureka,  aka  Michael O’Hanlon,
        held his first exhibition as a gay man at Altona’s Joel Gallery five years ago.
        It was part of Midsumma and also the first GLBTIQ exhibition in Hobsons Bay and Melbourne’s west.
        Five years on, western suburbs’ councils have banded together to host a swag of GLBTIQ events  over  a  three-month  period  under the banner GOWEST and coinciding with Midsumma.
        Eureka, 58, has also come a long way since that first exhibition at Joel Gallery, and later at Footscray Community Arts Centre.
        His latest exhibition, Deoupages d’hommes is a compilation of works from an artistic residency in Berlin.
         “I was one of eight international artists there and it was three months – it was like Big Brother
         for artists … it was intensive.
          “This series combines my love of architecture with my love of men,” he said. “[Berlin] has a different attitude to the      body. They have this thing called FKK, which is basically free body culture, which emphasises that there’s nothing wrong at all with the naked human body.
        “There’s this wonderful honesty about the body, and acceptance, which is one of the reasons I was motivated to do this in Berlin.
        “It’s no trouble at all finding models that’ll take their clothes off and pose for you. It’s much harder in Melbourne.”
        Deoupages d’hommes runs until January 20 at Fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane.


        Great videoEureka Artist's Tak with Domi Corodba

        from Conor O'Hanlon about the exhibition including excerpts of the Artist's Talk with Domi Cordoba  the artist studio assistant and a model

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