© by Sixpack France
SIXPACK FRANCE x TOM OF FINLAND COLLECTION
Tom of Finland is Finnish. Crazy, huh?
Tautology and irony aside, this fact is significant. Lost in the Far North, the young Tom of Finland, born Touko Laaksonen, started drawing statuesque and fantastical men early on, unaware that decades later his drawings would become idealized images for men who prefer dick.
But not any men: a specific community, born right after World War II, like the bikers’. Same uniform: motorcycle boots, rocker-style leather jackets and caps.
And same background as well: army veterans, like Touko. Hard-boiled Americans, often S&M-oriented, forming a highly restricted members-only private club.
Bikers and leather men, two parallel worlds that wouldn’t necessarily come together, if not through unconscious imitation: by the early 50’s, gay bikers’ clubs had already come into existence. Counter-cultural hypermasculine brotherhoods on two counts: against the fairy fruity gays and against a society too hung up on rules. Doubly interesting for Sixpack France, the Avignon-based house advocating all forms of insubordination and disobedience.
Threefold even, since this new ode to testosterone and mustache trends, for which Tom of Finland would become the staunch defender, is born of pencil on paper. A pencil to erect a myth. A myth and dicks, sex, and a culture glorifying bodies. Assertion and satisfaction. Assertion of beauty amongst men. Men proud of their bodies and no longer hiding. Rebels without any other cause than their love for other men. Joyful satisfaction, on a motorcycle saddle rather than between silk sheets...
A pencil to translate a vision, a proliferation of details, surreal realism: Tom’s men are wet dreams who will gradually become reality. Twenty years before Glenn Hughes was even wriggling to the sound of the Village People on every TV set, or Al Pacino infiltrated the leather scene in William Friedkin’s Cruising. But how on earth did Tom, all the way back in Helsinki, get the hang of this very underground phenomenon? That is the question. Perhaps one day, at the advertising agency he was working for, Tom came across the July 21, 1947 edition of Life magazine and its infamous photo spread of the Hollister biker rally turned orgiastic riot. Maybe that was the trigger: Tom simply felt an affinity with these fringe-dwelling groups of the American way of life…
Because Tom of Finland, without having ever traveled there, appears to be immersed in the American mythologies, combining collective unconscious and personal psyche. Extreme virility, refusal of established rules, private dream and social reality. His world and their world, of indifferent revellers, magnificent man-whores and itinerant backpackers seeking endless pleasure, much like Kake, his comic books’ hero.
Kake travels the length and breadth of the gay path, like a homo hobo, a fanny cowboy looking for these archetypal buckled fellas making his sap rise: lumberjacks and workers, businessmen and servicemen, all hung like Greek gods.
Muscular chests and thighs in the image of Mr Clean’s, neatly trimmed porn star mustaches on faces as square as their torsos, and gigantic cocks: it’s a complete orgy in Tom’s head. Striking homoerotism. As opposed to Hajime Sorayama’s female robots - for which Sixpack France has already been the herald - or even Namio Harukawa’s domineering women, this erotic art has gone from paper to true reality. Extremely rare embodiment, private reveries becoming worldwidely fashionable.
Tom of Finland has drawn a myth. Tom of Finland, a hedonistic illustrator.
The SIXPACK FRANCE x TOM OF FINLAND collection will be launched 26th January 2011 and available online at SIXPACK.FR or at CITADIUM in Paris.
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