Exhibition explores the realms of masculine sexuality

Men are beautiful.

It’s time to acknowledge it, or at least affirm it, and subsequently to acknowledge and affirm that it’s cool for men to think so.

Columbus photographer Nich Corbett’s exhibition, “Fool’s Paradise,” which opens with a reception Saturday, March 2, at Wild Goose Creative, is the artist’s psychedelic fantasy exploring this space through the creation of a mythological or hyper-real world, captured in photographic images.

“I would say the collection definitely idealizes men’s sexuality, but more specifically gay men’s sexuality,” Corbett said. “I wanted to capture men in a soft, feminine, romantic way. Most straight men would refuse to even admit that they had looked at another man’s penis, but a woman would have no issue with admitting to seeing another woman’s breasts or vagina. Women are shown as these delicate, soft, beautiful creatures in art, and we’re shown a woman’s naked body more than we are a man’s in paintings, TV [and] movies.”

“Fool’s Paradise,” then, is a specific set of images, unified by the sort of mystical world created by Corbett for the series, that asks the viewer to consider broader concerns.

“I want to expand the expectations of masculinity and men’s sexuality. Men believe they have to live in this bubble of predisposed behaviors and anything outside of that is taboo. There’s no shame in being who you want to be, doing what you want to do and living authentically. Even if it’s bursting someone's bubble,” Corbett said.

The exhibition reflects a body of work that’s been a while in coming.

“’Fool’s Paradise’ was always something I wanted to do, but I never had a name for it or knew exactly what it would even look like,” Corbett said. “It started off emotional but blossomed into an intellectual exercise. I knew I wanted to do something that would call back to the underground queer artists of the ’60s and ’70s like George Platt Lynes and James Bidgood. I wanted to take what those artists did 40 years ago and turn it into a modern-day version, but also my own.”

Corbett said his hope was to achieve a mythical, fantastical quality to the images without the use of excessive Photoshop or other post-shooting enhancement.

“Every photo I take is an image that’s been rolling around in my head until I bring it to life,” Corbett said. “The sets are all me; the lighting is all me; the photo is all me. I try really hard to bring what’s in my mind to life. I didn't want to take any photos that would involve adding something to it digitally because I didn't want to take away from the subject of the photo. Most of the images rely heavily on the lighting to get the emotion across to the viewer.”