Arrows of Desire' is a group art exhibition and an unprecedented two-week celebration of Saint Sebastian: martyr, patron saint and queer icon. Thirty established and emerging international contemporary artists re-interpret the image of Sebastian in a variety of media: painting, textile, sculpture, performance and video. The exhibition runs for two weeks, coinciding with London's Pride celebrations.
Saint Sebastian has long been a source of fascination to artists, from his original religious context as a Christian martyr, through various incarnations as plague protector, sport patron and gay icon. His stark image of baroque suffering and defiance mixed with androgynous eroticism has had a particular impact on the counterculture.
‘Arrows of Desire’ explores universal themes - sex, religion, persecution. With a narrative focused around LGBTQ, BDSM and figurative art, the work is bold, uncensored and controversial, but with a genuine spiritual aspect always present. Powerful select art pieces, sensitively considered and executed with expert technical skill, explore this often ambiguous relationship of patronship and how it manifests itself artistically.
With submissions cruising from the original body-modification pioneer Ron Athey to Simon Davis RP (vice president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters), we see Sebastian’s influence bridging the gap between the taboo and the classical; whilst the sexually charged, online porn inspired, illustrated notebooks of Matthew Pagett versus Tony O’Connell’s queer Christian ritualistic encounters juxtapose the erotic and the spiritual. A memorial AIDS quilt pays respects to the saint as a patron of “gay plague”, while Gulf War veteran Glenn Fitzy's powerful sculpture of a bow made from petrol pumps positions St Sebastian’s role as the patron saint of soldiers firmly in modern politics.
A specially curated magazine will expand upon the exhibition, with artistic and literary meditations on Sebastian submitted by writers, poets and members of the clergy. It will be available on the merchandise stall along with other bespoke artistic items.
A string of interactive and immersive events will punctuate the duration of the show’s run, exploring the dynamics of martyrdom’s influence on artists throughout history, its impact on film, literature and on our own bodies.
There will be opening and closing parties (including live music and performance) as well as various ticketed events, such as an exploration of Sebastian in film (with Derek Jarman’s ‘Sebastiane’ headlining a programme accompanied by select underground shorts), and a life drawing session which invites the viewer to capture the idealised beauty of Saint Sebastian in flesh.
‘Arrows of Desire’ is an irreverent exploration of this seductive saint curated by artists who adore him. Join us in submitting to his charms.
Artists: ANDREW LOGAN, RON ATHEY, SIMON DAVIS, HENRY HATE, GIANLUCA PISANO, NICK CUTHELL, FERNANDO CARPANEDA, KARINA AKOPYAN, JASON ATOMIC, JOHN LEE BIRD, BILLY CHAINSAW,JAZZ SZU-YING CHEN, ILUA HAUCK DA SILVA, HYBRID DESIRE, SUE DRAY, ESPIRA, GLENN FITZY, FRANK GAMBINO, IZASKUN GONZALES, KAT HUDSON, MANKO, TONY O'CONNELL, MATTHEW PAGETT, JINYONG PARK, JEROME PELERIN, JAMES UNSWORTH, CHRISTOPHER WARD, NATASHA XAVIER.
Adam Espira - London based fine artist and curator.
Manko - Sculptor, life model, founder of Art Model Collective.