Unveiled: Jack Sanders

HOMOSURREALISM / homo.se.re.al.ism
a 21st century art form in which a gay artist or gay writer combines unrelated images or events in a very strange and dreamlike way

Homosurrealism. The name of both an artistic movement and a magazine. Founded by Atlanta (USA) based artist Jack Sanders and now in its fifth edition, it is a showcase for international gay artists drawing on the dialogue of surrealist art from a distinctively Queer perspective.

Recently I sat down with Jack to discuss more about the magazine, his influences and vision.

© Kenneth Anger - http://www.kennethanger.org/
© Kenneth Anger – http://www.kennethanger.org/

Richard Glen: Here at Obscured we are big fans of your project. Where did the inspiration for Homosurrealism came from? Because you, like us, have a very clear remit.

Jack Sanders: I have been interested in unusual artforms since an early age I think that my major inspiration would be Kenneth Anger (http://www.kennethanger.org/). I met Ken when I was about 16 and he gave me his address and said we could be pen pals. I was surprised because I thought he would be mean

RG: Well, as pen pals Kenneth Anger go is not too shabby! And it’s clear that his use of juxtapositions and multiple media was a massive influence.

JS: Yes, the music and lack of dialog was interesting to me. I was also interested in his interest in Aleister Crowley and how he incorporated magick into his films. I didn’t know who Crowley was at that age but was turned onto him by Kenneth

© Jack Sanders
© Jack Sanders

RG: In terms of your interest in surrealism, especially the dream state, I can see those influences strongly in your work and the magazine.

JS: Absolutely. I am interested in dream-like images but more interested in things that cannot be. That make no sense.

I get inspiration from meditating on things I would like to see. It’s sort of a dream-like state but I don’t get much inspiration from actual dreams. I do this at night and it gets very psychedelic sometimes.

RG: So I know you have discussed Homosurrealism as being an art movement which is relevant now. Is it more about the power of consciousness and imagination than dream?

JS: Yes! The little manifesto I wrote describes it as just that. A 21st century art movement. Man Ray had written that artistic masters get inspiration from a muse or nature, etc. Normal artists like most of us have to create it out of or imagination. In other words, it’s a thought process mixed with imagination.

© Bruce La Bruce - http://www.brucelabruce.com/
© Bruce La Bruce – http://www.brucelabruce.com/

RG: So, Homosurrealism – my understanding is that it is taking the language of surrealist art and adding our experience as gay men to it. I think of artists like John Waiblinger and Bruce La Bruce, both I know you have featured, who use this as central to their practice?

JS: There seem to be a lot of definitions of surrealism. Some say it is two or more totally unrelated ideas that combine to form an unusual and unique piece of art. To me this is only a part of Homosurrealism. To me it is all of the above but transforming these ideas into a beautiful piece of art. The challenge might be taking pornographic images like John and creating a unique, unusual and beautiful work.

RG: There is some stunning, diverse work there from a broad spectrum of artists. What is it that you personally respond to? What do you look for?

JS: I look for some homoerotic imagery. Totally subjective, I know, but I love inanimate homoerotic images like boxing gloves, tools, belts, hoodies, skateboards. I am not too keen on sex organs as an artistic expression. But I would love to see somebody able to tackle the topic in a creative way.

And emotion and movement are very important. Faces, eyes

"wait until opportunity strikes back" photography by Richard Schemmerer - http://pdxart.blogspot.co.uk/
“wait until opportunity strikes back” photography by Richard Schemmerer – http://pdxart.blogspot.co.uk/

RG: And from that, I get the strong impression that your work, the magazine and Homosurrealism as a movement is more engaged in eroticism than being overtly sexual?

JS: That’s a good point. I mean Bruce is definitely overtly sexual and I love his work. I don’t want Homosurrealism to shy away from real sex and real men. It’s a very thin line I guess.

RG: I think empathy and, as you say, emotion is a big factor. If you feel that desire and sexuality is treated in a very human way.

JS: Yes – if you look at the work of Piotr Urbaniak he incorporates dick into almost all of his art. Most of the guys have their zippers down and their dicks hanging out. But to me its art and its homosurrealism.

RG: So in some ways, it seems about the gap between the sexual, and an honest expression of it, and the pornographic? I think of what you said earlier about John’s work which is reclaiming those images. And I see that as a thread in many other artists you feature.

© Piotr Mariusz Urbaniak - http://www.urbaniakpm.de/
© Piotr Mariusz Urbaniak – http://www.urbaniakpm.de/

JS: I am about the honest expression of gay love and gay sex. I want people to see the love and feel the love and creativity of the movement I have been told forever “Why don’t you paint women? The female form is so much more beautiful.” That is how the old surrealists felt, especially Man Ray. But as I said, this is a 21st century artform and the male body and soul is beautiful and should be celebrated. Not just in a bodybuilder way but in a transcendent way.

RG: Having seen the art you feature in the magazine  I agree that it is a celebration of the male body and soul along with a very open agenda on what male beauty is. Speaking personally what do you consider male beauty to be ?

JS: I see male beauty as so many things. I have always craved masculinity. Not meaning straight, but strength. Not meaning lifting weights, but helping. The first time I noticed male beauty was this boy standing in front of me and he was sweating. His hair was wet. That’s male beauty. To me, it’s aggression, determination, pride.

Most of all, it’s wanting what you can never have. That is what beauty means to me

RG: Thanks Jack.

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