Making art does not always involve the traditionally thought of materials such as a brush or canvas, sometimes it does not even involve paint. In fact, other methods are pretty common and span over a wide variety of methods and creative ideas and materials. Using the naked body as the tool, however, would be less common.
Canadian painter and performance artist Brent Ray Fraser was looking for a way to focus on human anatomical art when he was hired by a private collector to make an original painting made entirely of imprints of Fraser’s penis- one for every year of his life.
Now Fraser structures his art around the words of Jackson Pollock, whose famous art also never touched brush to canvas, albeit in a very different way. "It doesn't matter how the paint is put on, as long as something is said."
Fraser’s other inspiration is Andy Warhol, which is unsurprising given that Warhol had his own phase of creating art with his own penis, although in his Piss Portraits, he created his art by urinating on the canvases.
Fraser has gained a lot of interest while doing performance art centered on his phallic arts, especially the ones that he created during live events where he paints entirely in the nude. In the past he has performed as a private dancer, and as a live nude sculpture for a Valentine’s day exhibition. Yet at the time, these performances made Fraser worry that his career as an artist would not be taken seriously, and that it would cast a shadow on his artwork.
However, when he began creating art using his naked body he felt hooked. Unlike his performances as a dancer, this form of art made him feel as if he was truly creating art. It created a timeline with his body, he said, and allowed him to explore his sexuality as a form of artistic work. He says that sometimes he will use his art-induced arousal to sign the paintings with his DNA. He says it provides him a new way to examine his role as a male through self-objectification of his physique, and that given that his work is highly erotic, it provides sexual satisfaction.
There are various methods to how he paints. He says that a flaccid penis is better, technically, for large-scale works so that he can maneuver it in more ways. However, as an imprint or pointed end, he would rather use his erect penis. He has compared this to being in Warhol’s factory, in the sense of how unconventional it is, only of course, with a very different method of creation.
Fraser has replicated multiple famed pieces of art, versions of Shepard Fairey's Obama HOPE poster, Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portrait, and the Mona Lisa, proving that his method can still create recognizable and well-constructed pieces.
That being said, there are platforms of social media that fail to distinguish between his performance art and erotic porn. Facebook has continued to remove his videos and photos despite blurring and cropping by Fraser. The moderators have yet to recognize his page as one of the arts rather than solely one of subjects that are so-called NSFW.
Fraser views this as an outright form of censorship, but despite repeatedly re-posting his works, they are consistently taken down from the site. Fraser says he does not know what the fuss is about, given that sex is, as he describes it, the ultimate subject.
While he once worried that he would gain recognition solely as the phallic fetish guy, Fraser now feels that every artist has infinite amounts of chances to reinvent, no matter how they choose to. He recalls that he once worked for Louis Vuitton for three years, endlessly drawing women’s feet in shoes. Then he feared he may only be seen as a shoe fetish guy, but he grew out of that.
Art has been the catalyst for Fraser growing throughout his life. Once a shy young boy, he began to work out and attempt to better himself after years of drawing the portraits of his favorite role models. He describes it as his superman mask, a way to recreate himself and experience new levels and forms of liberation.
The art of Fraser is not in any way traditional. Yet it seems to be just another reinvention of a way to exalt and exemplify the human physique, which has been a central part of art for thousands of years. Fraser’s performance art shows a new form of performance art and painting that, whether or not it is well accepted, is drawing interest from viewers everywhere.