Perverse pleasures



Some requests are impossible to resist. When the Amorist was asked if she’d like to be part of a panel at London’s Royal Academy entitled Provocations in Art: the Erotic, she leapt at the chance. Who doesn’t warm to an open invitation to be provocative about sexually-charged art, especially when it’s linked to an exhibition of the work of Dali and Duchamp? (https://www.royalacademy.org.u...)

So last Friday she spoke alongside artist Adham Faramawy and Cambridge University’s Dr Alyce Mahon, author of Eroticism and Art and Surrealism and the Politics of Eros.  Mahon had plenty to say about the Surrealists’ exploration of sexual repulsion and repression and the fact Dali’s father showed him graphic pictures of the most severe manifestations of STDs when he was a boy. 

But the panel stopped short of discussing Dali’s later habit of wanting to watch his wife Gala having sex with other men. (No wonder she's tweaking his moustache, below.) 


The RA audience was so polite and respectable that the Amorist couldn’t quite bring herself to mention voyeurism and masturbation, despite the plea for provocation. 

She did, however, pick some of her favourite works of art to discuss and was glad to show a slide of Henri Fuseli’s 1809 erotic sketch of three women and one recumbent man, which is in the collection of the V&A. The women are the active agents of sexual pleasure in the picture, handling the supine man’s impressive erection, while his head is obscured between one of the trio’s thighs. Their hair is adorned with elaborate headpieces, which bear no relation to the fashions of the day and the fantastical elements only add to the sexual charge. 

It occurred to the Amorist that Fuseli was a Surrealist before the word Surrealism was coined. His most famous picture, The Nightmare, shows a sleeping woman with a grotesque incubus crouched on her stomach and a fiendish horse (the night mare) gazing at the scene. 


Freud could not have conjured something so symbolic of repressed sexual energy and human disgust at the power of our base urges. It was refreshing to discuss perversion in the hallowed halls of one of the UK’s great institutions. 

Adham Faramawy’s video art was a revelation to the Amorist. He’s been involved with Virtual Reality projects at the Royal Academy and his recent work explores polymorphous perversity with joyous abandon. The simple act of moisturising your own or someone else's body will never feel, or sound, quite the same after you've seen his video Body Firming Lotion (SUx 2B U). https://vimeo.com/228355478


The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it.
Woody Allen