Oat Montien Presents 'Songprapha: Reclining Queer Nudes'
Artist and writer Oat Montien is celebrated for his whimsical drawings, especially ones portraying the male body. Looking out onto the world, he simultaneously reflects inward, and it is through his spectacles of esotericism and the politics of body and gender that he translates his works to audiences.
Earlier this month, the artist launched his latest Songprapha: Reclining Queer Nudes at Bodhisattava Gallery on Songprapha Road. A collection of 12 drawings, the work portrays 12 different reclining male bodies. In a previous body of work titled Eros, Oat compiled nude sketches of his ex-lovers, exploring subjects of desire. In this new collection, however, he is turning his eyes back to a subject closer to himself by collaborating with platonic models.
I've always drawn caucasian male bodies but for this exhibition, I'd like to shift my focus to the bodies of Asian gay men, as a meditation on my own sexuality.
In a corner of the room at Songprapha is a small glass window looking into a replica of the studio space where the queer men were drawn. It is in the cosy setting that each man stripped and exposed himself for art. Oat hand-picked each of the subjects and they came from all walks of life, from sex workers to white-collar professionals. Before drawing he would allow the men to express their inner-self by choosing from tarot cards they most identify with. Asking his models to lie down, Oat merges together classical paintings, mysticism and the codes of urban gay lifestyle. Because the reclining pose is almost always seen traditionally with female bodies, having men posing in such way triggers different questions and emotions.
Pondering happens throughout the process. As the artist sketches, he asks each model questions about their bodies and what they find attractive. It is through such conversation that both the drawer and the drawn connect and learn from one another. From the mutual understanding that develops, the artist paints his subject through his mind's eye.
Do you think you are sexy? Do you think others think you are sexy? What is beautiful for you? Are you happy with your body?
Visit Bodhisattava Gallery on Songprapha road to see the exhibition, which will be on display until February 28, 2021. Visit fb.com/BodhisattavaGallery.