That, in a word, was what drove Santiago de Chile-based artist Alex Ceball’s homoerotic art.
“I must say that what pushed me to take my art towards this direction was the fact that I had to accept who I am, and, furthermore, to be proud of myself and to try to transmit this pride with my art.”
Ceball has always been interested in art, though he only took this to a professional level around 15 years ago. He also focused on homoerotic art that “tries to imitate the elegance of the antique art, inspiring my work in the blue period of Pablo Picasso.” He is inspired by, in his words, “no less than normal daily life.”
And while, “nowadays we see a drastic change towards accepting the LGBT community around the world,” Ceball said that in his case as a South American, “I sadly did not enjoy this privilege 10 years ago. At that time, being gay was the equivalent of social persecution, and I felt the need to confront this situation without hesitating, accepting the consequences that it might produce. I had to stand strong and confront my own society, knowing that the only way to do it, was to have a strong character and a pair of balls.”
Ceball added: “When I remember those times that seem so long ago now, I never wonder if it was a bold decision; I actually think that what I’ve done was brave and it fills me with pride. I knew that creating homoerotic art was a necessity in order to bring normality to something that has been among us for thousands of years, but has been concealed and criminalized by religion.”
Ceball has found some success – e.g. in 2015, when he celebrated his tenth anniversary as an artist, he had an exhibition in Argentina, Buenos Aires. He said that the reception to his work has been “mainly very well.”
This may be because of a… compromise. “Even though my artworks show many scenes with explicit sexual content, I’ve made them with the sufficient elegance in order to avoid scandals and to make it easier to be perceived as fine art rather than vulgar,” Ceball said. He added, nonetheless, that “anyways, I believe that my artwork will be always accepted and seen with better eyes when its presented in a living room of one of our own community rather in the house of a heterosexual traditional family.”
A challenge, he said, “is the lack of exhibition spaces that would accept this type of artistic projects. Also, it’s a lot easier to find art dealers that prefer to sell conventional, rather than homoerotic art. In all honesty, making art is already a hard task, and even harder when it’s representing a taboo, at such level that you could say it’s basically professional suicide.”
Ceball also lamented that “many of the artists who do this type of work aim to transmit some sort of reaction to the status quo, or they do it simply as a joke, or even try to create intentionally a shock effect. Even in many cases, I sense that they intent to lecture the public with a violent discourse. On the other hand, I try to create my art with simplicity and a huge amount of care. I think it’s so significant to maintain a healthy mental approach when dealing with people in general.”
For those who want to go into this field, Ceball said that “maybe they should start off by convincing themselves and others of the quality of their own work. I must say that this process is important and has a price, an economical price. Investing in promoting your own work is expensive but it’s worth it because that’s our profession, our career, and I would even dare to say, our life. Also, it’s important to do it with tranquility and patience; nobody becomes famous or successful overnight, it’s a ladder that needs to be climbed step by step. A career based on scandals or show business is most likely to be a short career. Sometimes it’s better to let things take their natural course and to observe the surrounding while adapting.”
In the end, though, “the most important thing is creating a good work in a technical sense,” Ceball ended.
Alex Ceball’s artwork is available at THE ALEX CEBALL STUDIO WORLDWIDE.