Letters of lust

Jenna Crowley

Sex, lust, love, romance and the confusion of ever-changing gender roles were challenged in the exhibition, “Lust Letters.”

Amid a string of art galleries in the forefront of downtown Los Angeles’ China Town lies Coagula Curatorial. The most recent exhibition there, “Lust Letters,” contained the works of artists Tim Youd, Gajin Fujita, Bruce Richards and Erica Rawlings.

“What we wanted to do for this exhibition is to show the perspective women have on lust and love, but using male artists,” said Mat Gleason, curator and director of the curatorial.

The tall, white walls were sporadically touched with all things lust and love, and with the underlining idea that men being visual creatures respond to pornography, while women being verbal creatures respond to romance.

Anais Nin’s “Elena” is the longest in a series of 15 romantic and erotic stories, all of which are collected together under the title “Delta of Venus,” and secretly written and commissioned in Paris in 1930.

Because this type of material was considered racy at the time, Nin did not claim to be the author of her own literature until the early 1970s during the sex liberalization. Her novels can be found online or in vintage book stores.

This once-illegal, pornographic, material was made visual by Tim Youd, who calls his representation, “The Lust Letters.” By using the same brand of typewriter the original literary used, Youd rewrote the story onto the original pages, giving them a super-imposed look.

Each word-clustered piece of paper, from the first page of the story to the last, was strewn across the gallery wall in one long, sleek line, splattered with baby-blue and pink paint and mounted on Victorian wallpaper, and resembling hotel rooms of the era.

The next concept was Gajin Fujita’s “Doggie Style” that was shown with a mixed media, such as a Japanese man and woman having sex, surrounded by East Los Angeles-styled graffiti text that read “Scream” and “Do it.”

“Fujita merges multicultural experiences in ways that really resonate,” Gleason said. “It’s kind of a critique of the over-sexualization of American culture.”

Fujita’s canvas was not for sale because of the high demand for his work.

Other pieces included heart-covered basement walls by Erica Rawlings, the only female artist of the exhibition. The red, purple and pink felt hearts spelled out phrases, “No soup for you,” “Love is weird” and “Not tonight.”

“It’s funny because in this situation, all of the pieces created by our men artists are more on the sensual and romantically-sweet side, where the woman’s art is more blunt and bitter,” Gleason said. “It usually seems to be the opposite way around.”

Finally, Bruce Richards’ realistically-styled acrylic-on-canvas, painted colorful and poppy, yet simple romance, including allegories such as chocolate covered strawberries, heart shaped dice, a crooked dagger, birds and bees, and a penny.

Youd plans to keep showcasing his representation of the “Lust Letters” in cities such as San Francisco, even after the exhibition is over.

Coagula Curatorial is located on 977 Chung King Road in Los Angeles.

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