Twenty Twenty Two, Manchester 15 August to 13 September 2014
Part of Manchester Pride Fringe
Cockadoodle: The Erogenous Art of Maurice Vellekoop is a flamboyant new exhibition that uncorks the Canadian artist’s contribution to illustration, underground comics and contemporary erotica. It will be Maurice Vellekoop’s first European solo exhibition with a wide selection of his erotic output on show alongside examples of his mainstream editorial work.
Maurice Vellekoop draws from a vast and familiar pool of televisual and filmic motifs to reflect wider truths, suppressed fantasies and classic archetypes, fashioning a unique visual signature that is at once widely marketable (commercial clients include The New Yorker, Vogue, Wallpaper, New York Times and Rolling Stone), yet unabashedly erotic.
Ripe for celebration, Vellekoop is a leading figure within an under-the-counter pantheon of artist-illustrators who trace their lineage to the golden age of powder-tinted girlie artists, from Alberto Vargas to Zoë Mozert and Gil Elvgren, to the leather-clad muscles of later male fantasy art, encompassing Tom of Finland, Harry Bush and Frank Frazetta.
The exhibition has been created at a moment of renewed significance as Vellekoop embarks upon a graphic memoir, I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together! commissioned by the Canadian Council for the Arts and edited by author and award-winning art director Chip Kidd, to be published by Pantheon Books.
The exhibition includes hand painted illustrations, using the artist’s signature method of felt pen with watercolours, Dr Martin’s dyes, on Arches paper; gouache, juvenilia, printed matter and comic strips from an extensive selection of Vellekoop’s career:
Maurice Vellekoop’s Pin-Ups is his most successful book of explicit male ‘beefcake’ illustrations, the gay male equivalent of cheesecake beauties, inspired by vintage girlie art and featuring calendar boys, musical idols, sporting legends and figures from fantasy, history and literature.
Maurice Vellekoop’s ABC Book, An Adult Primer takes the form of a traditional children’s primer, complete with rhyming couplets, and re-imagines it for adults from a guileless, x-rated perspective.
Premiere of Transworld, a 16 page strip that features a North Korean, transgender air stewardess and a zipper-bursting encounter with a hunky Iranian male passenger, in an alternative spin on the temptations posed by the so-called axis of evil…. a sky-high expose of free love.
The World of Gloria Badcock follows the sexploits of glamorous, bisexual magazine editrix Gloria Badcock and her gay companion Dr. Cornelius as they travel back in time to the eve of the French Revolution, cavorting with courtesans and servants alike at the court of Marie Antoinettte.
From colourful characters such as Dame Formalda Hyde and Vatda Heck and references ranging throughout the history of opera to the heights of Wagnerian solemnity and the excesses of French spectacle, A Nut at the Opera is a droll satire of a fictitious operatic cornucopia.
Editorial commissions ranging from the Hieronymus Bosch inspired The World of Lustly Delights, cover art for No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics and English Eccentrics for Abercrombie and Fitch, featuring a Mad Hatter’s tea party attended by the likes of Quentin Crisp, Dusty Springfield, Alan Turing, Leigh Bowery, Boy George and Edith Sitwell.
“The emergence of Maurice Vellekoop’s work was remarkable for being a full-scale assault on comics. From quiet and introspective veiled autobiography run off on a photocopier, to fun and fantastic pornography published in the hallowed halls of Drawn & Quarterly, to full-on comics reportage in the pages of American Vogue, Maurice Vellekoop’s decidedly queer artwork was everywhere, and the medium was better for it. Vellekoop continues his fun, poignant, sharp and sexy style today with always-amazing results, and remains one of my favourite comics creators.”
– Christopher Butcher, Festival Director, Toronto Comic Arts Festival
“Vellekoop brings something irresistibly fresh to gay erotica, a wit and whimsy to match his superlative craft as an illustrator. Only he can make an elf sexy…or a middle-aged dandy or a pimply-bummed nerd. Only he draws upon sources and inspirations as varied as the Richard Strauss opera Salome, TV’s “Star Trek” and Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli. The frothing mix of humor, intelligence and skill is intoxicating – like sex.”
– Gordon Bowness, introduction to Maurice Vellekoop’s Pin-Ups“
“The day I met artist Maurice Vellekoop was also the first time I’d ever been naked in public… an unrelated, but serendipitous experience. Vellekoop’s brush tips plant the seeds of a vibrant, luscious wonderland that recreate a pre-fall state, before the crunch of sour apple introduced the bitter taint of shame. His work is essential de-programming, like that for cult escapees, for anyone who wishes to entertain the subversive idea that fantasy and desire might actually be a joyful and life-enhancing salve, not an impulse to be starved or stifled”.
– Bren O’Callaghan, Curator, Cockadoodle: The Erogenous Art of Maurice Vellekoop
The exhibition is supported by a programme of events and activities that address notions of private shame, empowerment, sex-positivism and the often overlooked role of personal fantasy in critical cultural appreciation:
The Manchester premiere of London nude literary salon Naked Boys Reading with the theme “True North”.
A presentation by the artist on his practice with Got Lead: Drawing Sex, Arousal and Desire.
Erotic Film Society presents an evening with Amory Peart, specializing in transgressive adult parodies of mainstream features, including The Bionic MILF and a biopic of Aggie Snatcher in The Iron Lady Garden for Television X.
Cockadoodle: The Erogenous Art of Maurice Vellekoop, curated by Bren O’Callaghan, is supported by Arts Council England with additional funding from Manchester Pride.