Thursday, April 26, 2007


Admittedly the butt is one of my favorite attributes of the male physique. A man’s well developed glutes and legs indicate power and strength to me even more than bulging biceps or big pecs. Starting with that premise the piece developed around ‘Strength’ as a physical attribute but also an emotional one as well. I like the exotic nature of placing the figure, who is of African ancestry against an Asian setting. It highlights the strength required from within when you are an outsider, one of the 'different ones' in a society.

The world would be a much better place if more of us embraced what is different and foreign as exotic instead of shun it as abnormal and alien.

The "Strength" original and prints are now available from my website.


Frater Gymnos said...

funny, i wonder how i'm supposed to read this as an african american man with some familiarity of east asian spiritualities.

am i to read myself as exotic?
or does that only apply if i am a white man, for whom i, myself, am "exotic"?

i'd rather read the strong glutes as powerful in and of themselves, un-enhanced by his supposed difference from the viewer.

i certainly hope tha tmy own beauty is about my own beauty, and not merely about the fact that i am perceived as different becasue i look somehow different than the supposed viewer of myself!

but ordinarily i would be moved to say, simply "how beautiful"

because i know that it always makes me wonder if i am beautiful "for a black man" or beautiful "becasue i am a black man" when the issue of my "differentness" is raised.

but, quite simply, your work is beautiful.

and i am grateful for your individual, artistic contributions to the world, which i find more beautiful because you are who you are - doing what you do.


Michael Breyette said...

Hi Frater,

As with anyone from anyplace, their home would not be exotic. No, being a black man doesn't automatically make you exotic or different. Just as being in Japan would not be exotic if you were from Japan. It's the contrast of the two, the atypical combination.

A Texas cowboy in Paris or an Irishman in Brazil would have represented the same 'difference', or outsider quality. Sure, he could have also been caucasian, but he's not. It's more an interpretation of my view of the world, being a gay man 'an outsider' in a predominantly straight society.

I am sure people find you beautiful simple because you are. Beauty, as with what is considered exotic, is in the eye and perception of the beholder.

Manny said...

Hi Michael,

First off, you have a great blog, I didn't reply to each post as that would have been insane, but I love the way how you share the music that you listen to and nice to see another You Tube fan also, I'd be lost without You Tube there are some very funny Joan Rivers clips on there if your into the same kind of humour as I am.

But as for your latest post "Strength." The title alone really leaves a lot to the imagination, regardless of the nationality of the person or his surroundings. I see "strenght" as a word with so many meanings, a man holding a baby, a man looking out of the window staring at a stormy sky with a tear in his eye, two men embracing each other in a crowded street, and so on, I see strength in all of those scenarios. But for me inner strength is something that I see the most when I look at people, it seems to be something that I pick up on the most, though physical strength to me has a very different meaning.

The fact that you used an African American man in a Japanese surrounding never really struck me as "exotic." No matter what a nationality of a person I find exoticness (if that's a word) by looking into their eys, by hearing what they have to say and the tone of their voice, hearing about their adventures and places they have travelled, I tend to let my imagination run wild and I start forming my own "mind images" of that person in some far away place that I would never think about even venturing in my normal routine of thinking, and from that I begin to see one form of inner strength in that person.

Anyway, That's my first official rant on your blog, I do tend to chat a lot, but I guess that's what happens when your born into a large ethnic family in Australia where you have to chat a lot to get yourself out of doing the dishes at your Mothers house at family get togethers!


Michael Breyette said...

Hi Manny,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, for me "Strength" was difficult to sum up. I do like to give a brief description of what the picture is about in my eyes. Though finding the right words is sometimes difficult and inadequate. I guess that's why I am a visual artist and not a writer.

I try to leave a lot of the 'background story' open ended, letting the viewer extrapolate on their own. For instance you referred to the figure as African American. Perhaps he is not American at all. Maybe his mother is Japanese and his father is Morrocan. When I gave him green eyes that's when my mind began to spin tales of his family and blending cultures.

I always develop a sense of my subject's personalities when I work and I try to project that. He struck me as having an inner strength, an exotic quality, a man of intrique with an interesting story to tell.

Manny said...

Hey Michael,

Yeah, I know what you mean when it comes time to find words to describe something, sometimes what a person see's and how they explain their vision can be two totally different things.

Thanks heaps for explaining the thought process behind your work, it has really made me take a look at your work with a totally different view and made me open up my "inner eye" and imagine the story behind the man in the painting and how he got to where he is in this moment.