Photographs courtesy of The Little Black Gallery
Header photo: Barbulete by Kevin Osepa
"It is really important for me to reflect gay life and not other people's interpretation of it,” says Ghislain Pascal, founder of The Little Black Gallery and curator of Boys! Boys! Boys! Vol II / Pride, a sale of photography hosted by online auction house Paddle8 in partnership with the gallery.
Vol II is the second in a series of collections of curated photography featuring works by queer and gay photographers, including Matt Lambert, Florian Hetz and Stuart Sandford and the legendary photographer Greg Gorman.
The collection celebrates the male form, openness and inclusion, and is timed to coincide with Pride. Boys! Boys! Boys! follows The Little Black Gallery's earlier show Girls! Girls! Girls! and Vol III launches this September.
Hi Ghislain. Could you tell us a bit about your work curating this collection of photographs? What were you looking for?
The catalyst for the Boys! Boys! Boys! sale was that I represent the super-talented photographer Tyler Udall. For years we have been promoting his work and I realised that nobody was showing contemporary queer and gay fine art photography together, whilst auction houses were only selling the famous big names like Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol. Yet there was a huge generation of exciting queer and gay photographers out there, using their frank and provocative images as a celebration of their sexuality and openness, but not necessarily being represented or seen in the art world. So I thought it would be a great idea to bring them all together, whilst inviting legendary photographers like Greg Gorman, who for me personally is a pioneer—his book ‘Just Between Us’ is one of my all time favourites—to join the sale. My friend Joslin Van Arsdale at Paddle8 said I should do it for them, which has become the perfect match as they are the largest and best online auction house dealing in contemporary art, and they have really embraced the sale. The first sale was in March which was a great success and now we present Vol II this week, with Vol III coming in September, before taking an exhibition on tour around the world.
There is a great diversity in the photographs you’ve curated, from the sweet and tender to the downright sexy. It feels a lot more three dimensional than how gay life and love is often depicted. You also mention wanting to “shift the focus of visual pleasure off Grindr and onto the exquisitely photographed bodies of beautiful men". Why has this been important to you?
It is really important for me to reflect gay life and not other peoples interpretation of it. As a gay man I’ve curated a sale of images that are personal and emotional to me, so this means some are sweet and tender, some are raw, others beautiful, and some just downright sexy. But what they all have in common is that they are all great artworks, and people should not be afraid to buy them and hang them on their walls—we should embrace and celebrate queer photography. I love and want every one of them in my own collection, although I do already collect some of the photographers (Tyler Udall, Stephane Gizard, Kevin Osepa, Shen Wei, and Mel Roberts). It has been a real privilege to meet and work with so many interesting and talented photographers.
Could you tell us a little bit about the group of photographers that are a part of this project?
The group of photographers is really diverse. What I have tried to do is bring together photographers from both sides of the Atlantic, as for me there is a real visual difference between the imagery from USA and European photographers. As I travel the world and scrawl through social media I am always looking for new photographers to bring to the sale and it is amazing how the good images just jump out. For example, earlier this year I discovered Kevin Osepa, who is from Curaçao in the Caribbean, at Haute Photographie in Rotterdam (represented by Kahmann Gallery) with his beautiful image ‘Barbulete’ and just knew I wanted it in the sale. Obviously I am only scraping the surface, as there are so many photographers out there. Hopefully we can build a community of queer and gay photographers.
And finally, what is The Little Black Gallery and what is your gallery’s mission?
The Little Black Gallery was set up in 2008 following the tragic death of the legendary British photographer Bob Carlos Clarke. I was his agent and after his suicide I decided to open a gallery in his memory with his wife Lindsey Carlos Clarke and with my friend & long time client Tamara Beckwith—who originally introduced me to Bob. We don’t really have a mission other than to work with a small but diverse range of photographers that we like and we work really hard to make them successful.
The BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! VOL II / PRIDE sale, curated by Ghislain Pascal of The Little Black Gallery, is on Paddle8 from 14-25 June at https://paddle8.com/auction/boys-boys-boys-pride/