I love art, especially art that come from the soul. One day I came across Esteban’s paintings and fell in love. I got a chance to sit down and talk with Esteban about where his inspiration comes from for his paintings.
Can you tell us a little about Esteban Briones.
I think you can sum me up as a really strange human. I am in my forties, I started my professional life as a software and telecommunication engineer. However, the career I love started 8 years ago at the Fine Arts Faculty of Valencia, Spain.
I have traveled all over the world, and I still feel like there are more crazy things ahead to do. I also believe that magic, unicorns, and technology can live together with all the kindness of human beings.
Where do you get your inspiration for your art?
I know it may sound typical, but my inspiration comes from life and personal experiences. People, situations, and emotions can trigger something within me that tries to get out in the shape of something. These ideas sometimes become an obsession, I can’t stop thinking about them at all until I find a way to express them.
I use the body of a man as a support to express something related to male emotions. I believe that today we can express and talk about anything. We’re not ashamed of talking about sex, for example, but we’re embarrassed if we talk about feelings. We don’t want to show ourselves so vulnerable and opposite to the traditional masculinity concept.
Can you tell us a little about your first solo exhibition “Diluting Masculinity in Emotions?”
My first solo exhibition means a lot to me, not just professionally but also personally. When I started painting, I just did what I felt like, without any real purpose. Teachers and colleagues at the Fine Arts Faculty didn’t really like what I did, but I didn’t care because it was just a way to express myself. But last year I met several new friends that helped me to believe in myself and once I collected all my pieces together I realized that I was talking about emotions, from the pain or loneliness or other angles. Zygmunt Bauman said that we don’t really have solid concepts in our society, everything has been liquefied and a wide range of meanings can be used for the same concept. Masculinity is one of them, but I feel that if we add emotions to this equation, we still try to think of it as a dual concept. So my first solo exhibition is like a big first step for me, saying “I’m here to stay. I’m here, expressing the emotions that you probably don’t want to see in public.” I’m aware that I could be more popular if I show more nudity or romantic themes, but there’s already enough artists that do that.
Is the artwork in your exhibit an inner expression of you?
All of them, even if I start something not related to myself. For example ‘Inner world/outer world” started as a project for a friend of mine. He’s Gemini and I tried to express his duality through this work, an inner soft delicate soul and outer happy and strong social body. But I’m also Gemini, so at the end, I felt that I was painting both of us. One of the things that I realized over the years is that if I know the man I’m painting and have any personal relationship with him, I not only paint him faster and better, but I also enjoy it more and it’s like my (happy/sad) feelings move my brushes. My first works, such us ‘Absence’ shows the pain and loneliness that I felt years ago and even now that makes them so special and still a part of me.
What was one of your biggest obstacles in life?
My biggest obstacle in life is myself. I’m my worst critic. Just like Peter Pan, a simple happy feeling can make me fly. But I’m the first one to think too much and make it difficult. I have to say that during the last year I found a way to let myself go, enjoy myself through my paintings, and really experience life.
Are you working on any projects currently?
Yes! I should live in several dimensions at the same time to develop all the ideas that come to my mind. I’m working on a new set of paintings based on couples. Limbic Resonance is the first one, but I have two more I’m about to finish soon. I’m also trying to start a new set of sculptures based on my painting ‘Inner World, Outer World’. And I’m finally preparing my third solo exhibition for October.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me Esteban. If you want to keep up with Esteban you can follow him on Instagram @stephanelf.
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Beach Boys in the Buff
I caught up with artist Marc DeBauch to look at his series of work titled Beach Boys.
When did you discover and start to explore your passion for art?
I started drawing and painting when I was three years old. Before I was five, I remember creating a crayon drawing of the Sinking of the Titanic on the rough plaster of the living-room wall of my parents’ house. It was impossible to remove — my parents weren’t happy with me, but after that they provided me with enough art materials to pursue my creative interests without destroying their home.
When did you start specialising in painting naked men and creating erotic art?
It was 36 years ago when I started painting male nudes and selling them in a local gay book store. Then, in 1995, I entered two paintings in the Tom of Finland Foundation’s Emerging Erotic Artists Contest. I was won first place, which opened the door for my art career, as I was immediately approached by galleries and magazines that wanted to feature my art.
This gave me the confidence and notoriety to exhibit and sell my work at erotic art fairs and gay events. At that time, the internet was just emerging, so my friend Andrew created a website for me, which was a fantastic tool to get my art out to people around the world.
You’ve written that Tom of Finland is one of the major influences on your work — when did you first encounter the work of Tom of Finland?
I remember seeing Tom of Finland’s art in a porno magazine my friend had in high school. I was just amazed at the sexual tension, outrageous anatomy, and attention to detail in Tom’s art.
This was back in the early 1970s, so gay porn was just emerging legally in magazines and films. At the time, I wasn’t talented enough to draw the human figure accurately. But, I was fascinated enough to want to try. My sister’s boyfriend was a photographer, and he gave me his dark room equipment — back then you actually had to develop film, as there were no digital cameras.
I talked a friend into posing naked for me while jacking off, and I developed the film and made some prints. I was 14 years old, photographing another 14-year-old boy. It was very exciting creating my own porn! Unfortunately, my dad — being supportive of my art — wanted to see the photos, and of course I couldn’t show him. Not only did he not approve of gays, he didn’t want his son to be gay. He would have probably hit me if he knew I was a homosexual creating gay porn! So, I destroyed the photos almost in front of him, while saying — “The photos didn’t turn out and I would show him better work at another time.”
I was scared and freaked out. I knew I was self-censoring. But I also realised that if I was going to create erotic art that I would have to do it in secret. When Tom of Finland began drawing naked men, he also had to make his art in secret. I think most erotic artists learn to be very careful about choosing the right audience to exhibit their work to.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from people I know. I’ve been fortunate to see and meet many beautiful men in my life. Capturing their beauty and illustrating them in a unique way, is my goal.
What’s your creative process?
My creative process is different every time I paint. Sometimes an idea for a painting just pops in my head and I try to find model to pose for a photo to match my vision — that’s often the easiest route.
I rarely work from a live model. My paintings take so long to create — I often work all night on a painting — so, finding a model to sit for that long of a period and whenever I want them, is impossible. I use the photos of my models as reference.
Often, I look through hundreds of images and piece things together in a collage. It’s more like a jigsaw puzzle — lots of pieces missing, and my mind fills in those missing pieces with an arm from this model, the chest from another, the dick from another, the face from another, and so on, until I have the entire figure. But then I have to decide how the light and setting will pull all of those puzzle pieces together.
I have dozens of photos that are my references for every detail of plants, animals, rocks, furnishings. I sort through a constant mess of photos — gradually eliminating those references as my brain digests the information and my brush puts it on the canvas or paper.
The paintings that form the Beach Boys series are beautiful — what are some of the challenges in creating beach scenes like this?
Trying to find a balance between the setting and the model is always a challenge. I don’t want the model to overpower the beach, or the beach to feel more important than the model. I want my paintings to have a natural feeling, like you could be at the beach with my models.
Who are the men featured in the paintings of the Beach Boys series?
The men in my Beach Boy series are mostly friends that have modelled for me. Sometimes I find a photograph of a model that someone else has taken, that inspires me to use it as a reference pose to work from, then I find one of the photos of a beach that I’ve visited and I try to recreate a similar pose in a drawing that will eventually become a painting.
What do you hope that people feel when they look at your work?
I don’t want to just give the viewer of my art an erection, I want them to feel like they’re part of the painting, that they want to invite the men in my paintings into their homes, their beds, their dungeon, their car, their locker room, or the bushes for a hot fuck, butt licking, cock sucking, ass spanking good time.
I hope to excite the viewer visually, emotionally as well as spiritually. It’s my goal as an artist and sexually active gay man to paint erotica that continually challenges the views of people who oppose sexual freedom. If my paintings assist the viewer in discovering where they are in the spectrum of human sexuality, then my aim is reaching its target.
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