Daniel A. Heyman’s sizzling nude drawings are scattered throughout N.Y.’s LGBT Center
Currently on view at the LGBT Community Center is Daniel A. Heyman’s “Works on Paper.” You will need a map and a pick axe to see all of the artwork as it is spread out over three floors, hidden by ever-present trash cans, a semi-eternal book sale, over-grown plants, and a “gallery” space that is only momentarily open between numerous meetings. But you really ought to make every effort.
This collection is some of the most inspiring art I have seen in ages, a unique body of work that sizzles with line, color, and pattern. Imagine Alice Neel and Henri Matisse sitting down to tea with David Hockney pouring.
Starting in the second floor elevator lobby are five “black body” oversized linocuts (white lines contouring black shapes) on gorgeous handmade papers. Works of note include “Don,” a big-butted nude, hands over head, contrasted with broad stroke brushwork on a rich maroon dyed paper. A hairy-chested, well-hung “JB” stands with his back to the surf and sand, his swimsuit around his neck. Just to the right of the elevator is “JB’s Ghost,” a literal mirror image blotting of the original print, picking up the ornate patterning of the Japanese papers “he” was printed on. More of these highly virtuous works are tucked away on the third floor and third floor mezzanine. Keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to move the recycling bins out of the way.
A portion of the exhibit that has come down is “Nagasawa Nights,” a series of nine drawings in watercolor and contour pencil line. Taking off from 19th century Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and pillow books, which were Asian sex manuals left under the pillows of newly married couples, gay boy couples in brocaded kimonos fornicate in a seemingly endless variety of positions. In each drawing, Heyman uses the focusing device of a yellow square to highlight the means of anal penetration. These almost cartoony, peep-like shows seethe with sexuality and are vividly expressed by an economy of means.
In the exhibit, Heyman also introduced his beautifully conceived etchings “The Tattoo Series.” Individual nudes, mostly male, are spread out in a horizontal formats, flopped out on the beach or reclining on sofas. These one-of-a-kind prints are pulled using a collage technique called chine colle that leaves the etched line on top of cutout colored papers. The highly patterned papers he uses picture flowers, maples leaves, birds, and waves. Recalling full body “suits” of tattooing, the images are metaphoric dream bodies. Who wouldn’t want to be covered head-to-toe in blue peonies?