The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland presents the exhibition The Very Queer Portraits of Heyd Fontenot by Austin, Texas based artist Heyd Fontenot. In conjunction with the exhibition, a discussion The Queerest of Discussions: A Curator’s Talk with Heyd Fontenot and Anne Goodyear will be held.
Queer Portraits showcases Fontenot’s paintings that focus upon one of art’s most basic subjects, the human nude. Fontenot emphasizes the expressive features of his subjects, as well as the meaningful props surrounding them, to provoke viewers to question what their definition of “queer” truly is. Absurdly large heads, visual puns with erotic innuendoes, and the occasional goat that litter Fontenot’s works point to what Jonathan Walz believes best relates to the older, non-sexual definition of the highly debated term. The playful oddity in Queer is not the nude subjects themselves, but Fontenot portraying them as they are in real life, without airbrushing resurfacing, or other sort image reconstruction society has become used to. All of Fontenot’s subjects retain their curves, shortcomings, freckles, and most of all, personality.
Fontenot describes his work as a way in which he connects to modern issues such as body image and sexuality. He tackles these issues initially with humor, while continuing to strive to convey his opinions concerning more universal topics. He explains that “There [are] political conceits motivating [my] work...the unfortunate statistic that many people hate their bodies and disown their sexualities, the general acceptance of nudity as taboo, and the undeniable fact that people are victimized by advertising and organized religion.” He also identifies with these victims. “I’ve leveraged my perspective as a minority to relate to issues affecting the whole of humanity. I routinely challenge dominate cultural perceptions and phenomena…”