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Brian Jermusyk
brent grant
2003, 19" x 22", charcoal on paper


Photographed pornography doesn’t turn me on.  At least I think it doesn’t, but according to Natalie Angier, it does.

For women, the correlation between pelvic and psychic excitement is virtually nil. Women’s genitals, it seems, respond to all sex, all the time. Show a woman scenes of a man and a woman having sex, or two women having sex, or two men, or even two bonobos, Dr. Chivers said, and as a rule her genitals will become measurably congested and lubricated, although in many cases she may not be aware of the response.
                                              --The New York Times, April 10, 2010

Brian alleges that  reading the journals of Kenneth Tynan gave him a “permission slip” to explore his own sexual fantasies using “T” as a kind of alter ego. Sex, violence and death do run rampant in Brian's work, and though Tynan wasn’t a very nice man, Brian certainly appears to be.

This particular drawing is also meant to be an illustration of a Philip Larkin poem (see below). But I see it as a metaphor rather than as an illustration. The watcher is not “wanking,” he is standing still with one standing part and is a stand-in for me turned on by the beauty of charcoal drawing. The lovers don’t look like they are having an illicit affair, they look like long-time partners who are gently helping and supporting each other.

The drawing also strikes me as hilarious, a view shared by a group of children who came to our house and started laughing and pointing the moment they saw it. Why is sex funny? I don’t know but it is.

That reminded me of a comment from Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa: "Scouring the village palm groves in search of lovers is one of the recognized forms of amusement for the ten-year-olds.”

The same book comments on the fact that a child of ten would already have witnessed birth and seen many dead bodies, even post mortem autopsies, about all of which the adult attitude among Samoans is that “these are horrible but perfectly natural, non unique occurrences, forming a legitimate part of the child’s experience,” which reminds me of another aspect of Brian’s work, as seen in Augustine’s Dream.

  2004, 42” x 60”, charcoal and sanguine on paper

Love Again

Love again: wanking at ten past three
(Surely he's taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead, without showing how
To meet tomorrow, and afterwards,
And the usual pain, like dysentery.

Someone else feeling her breasts and cunt,
Someone else drowned in that lash-wide stare,
And me supposed to be ignorant,
Or find it funny, or not to care,
Even ... but why put it into words?
Isolate rather this element

That spreads through other lives like a tree
And sways them on in a sort of sense
And say why it never worked for me.
Something to do with violence
A long way back, and wrong rewards,
And arrogant eternity.

--Philip Larkin

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