The timeless art of the pin-up has seen many incarnations and often seduces the art-lovers palette by blurring the line between inspired creativity and explicit fantasy. London based illustrator, David Bray, continues the tradition of this erotic art form with his unique spin of the unattainable female. His drawings explore emotion, utopia, and a world of fantasy saturated with a strangeness.
Earlier this year at London's Stolen Space Gallery, Bray made a striking impression in his solo show entitled Great Disasters of the Twentieth Century with his references to the occult, Egyptology, loss, magic and the supernatural. The exhibit was inspired by Georg Lubitzer's album (Great Disasters of the Twentieth Century), most notably by the track 70 days. This track compelled Bray to create one piece a day for 70 days which in turn dictated the style or content of the larger drawings within the exhibit. The result was a collection free of repetition that teetered on the frays of sexual danger and vulnerability.
Bray's first solo show in Los Angeles (at Thinkspace) is small but equally as stunning. Taking a cue from Georg Lubitzer once again, Bray finds inspiration in the sensual, dark undertones of the album Return of Bad Wisdom. For those who may not be familiar with the music on the Lubitzer album, Bray describes it as "The audio version of a David Lynch movie". All nine works involve pin-up fantasies saturated with a strangeness; Sinister stares, bleeding appendages, hints of bondage or self-infliction. Each illustration comes with its own box of bad wisdom, or as Bray puts it, "Really messed up collection of very bad and incorrect scribblings." The concept of creating tactile pieces of work, engages us to delve deeper into the wicked world of its creator. The hidden treasures of "bad wisdom" feature explicit drawings of various acts of a sexual nature designed to shock. S&M and coitus experimentation gone awry, Kermit the Frog masturbating to a magazine, Snow White fornicating with two of the seven dwarfs, Donald Duck shooting heroine, Bray doesn't just push the envelope, he throws it off a cliff.
The boxes aren't the only secrets within the works. The Return of Bad Wisdom is a twisted depiction of the feminine allure with cleverly hidden references to the artist himself in the form of sign language. As she sits dressed in frills, thigh-high stockings and "come fuck me" pumps, this female beauty forms a lower case 'd' for David while displaying her one injured appendage in the process. The Bribe and Narrow Path, Black Mountain also incorporate personal references with sign.
With elegance and a little bit of raunchy humor, Bray extends the tradition of artists such as Alberto Vargas and Eric Stanton whose fascination for the erotic ignited an entire genre. His compelling works reveal an incredibly active imagination taking the viewer to his dark, titillating world of fantasy. Bray claims his fascination began during a time when he was unable to draw women and continues as an attempt to perfect it. He states, "It's an obsessional attempt at achieving perfection".
Return of Bad Wisdom is on view until August 6th at Thinkspace Gallery. All photos are courtesy of the gallery.