It is rare that the nude male body is shown in a vulnerable position in Arts – but it is the main theme in the photographs of Arnoldas Kubilius. His photographs are the expression of an obession, a metaphorical self-portrait and they are queer. A discussion with the artist from Lithuania, who is currently exhibiting in the Ancien Cinéma in Vianden.
woxx: Arnoldas Kubilius, in your work you mostly show the nude male body in a vulnerable position, sometimes also as an erotic being. Is your work a critique of the common portrayal of men as rather hard, powerful and invincible figures?
Even though my work indeed falls out of the structure that you mention, I don’t try to criticize anyone or anything. In my photographs I follow my passion – it’s as simple as that. And I believe, besides of a sense of vulnerability, in my works there is also a certain fascination and celebration too: celebration of vitality and masculinity in all its forms and the wonder of human flesh.
Even if it is not an explicit critique your work still contradicts the common representation of men or gender roles.
I would love to hear your opinion. What are gender roles, anyway? Psychologically and societally speaking, there are so many evolving aspects to being male and female. Perhaps my art reflects on one of the many masculinities that has a certain place in the current world?
I read your work as a break with the described representation of men, also because it liberates the male body of the heteronormativity – for example when you portray same-sex desire by showing bristly beards and convoluted tongues in a close up. Is your work queer or feminist?
The fact that my work portrays a male gaze on the male body definitely makes it queer. Is it feminist? Again I would like to hear what you think.
Your photographs remind me of the work of feminist artist from the 1970s and the 1980s: They no longer portrayed the nude male body as a symbol of power or as idealized boys but as humans. Why did you choose the male body as a subject?
Simply an unyielding obsession.
Water, skin and shadows seem to be themes of your work too. Why?
To me, the body, muscles, skin, scars, hair, wrinkles, veins, etc. are very fascinating. They provide endless possibilities of shapes and forms, they can be poetic, playful, raw. They can tell a story, portray a secret and entertain the eye. They can seduce, entice and repulse. The nude body is the purest human form which, in a dialogue with water, gets transformed, transcended. Water, reflections, droplets, ripples can add a sense of calm, playfulness, mystery, unexpectedness, sensuality…
You rarely take photos of the faces of your models. How come?
In a way, all my pictures are self-portraits. Not literally speaking, of course, but metaphorically. I am revealing what fascinates me and, therefore, who I am. Moreover, faceless subjects can sometimes turn into surprising abstract shapes.
We talked a lot about the work you have already done. Can you tell me more about the projects you would like to realize in the future?
This summer, I self-published my first photo book called (H)OMBRES (a fusion of the Spanish word “hombres” for men and French “ombres” for shadows). I have co-created it with the super-creative British designer Jake Noakes. It features 51 photographs and an essay by the wonderful American photographer Connie Imboden. Currently, I am experimenting further with underwater photography and some video making. In the future, I would like to play more with book-making and installations.
Arnoldas Kubilius was born in 1982 in Lithuania and works as a photographer in Luxembourg. He focuses on male bodies, textures, shades and shapes. He presents some of his photographs on Instagram.
Arnoldas Kubilius Photography at Ancien Cinéma Café-Club in Vianden. Until the 29. november.
This interview has been published in German in the print version of the woxx (1604).