As part of the ITS QUEER UP NORTH FESTIVAL John Paul Evans ‘ forthcoming exhibition at Castlefield Gallery presents work from an ongoing series of human scale black and white portraits of action men. Constructing evocative scenarios of drama and intimacy, he subverts the macho stereotypes of action men and invests these dolls for boys with complex identities.
Often without question, people accept that photographs of human subjects convey lives and personalities. John Paul Evans acknowledges that this is a construction of the photographer and as such, the dolls have a psychological depth and an ambiguity in their relationship.
Dramatic lighting and the use of focus are very important in achieving this. Often the more defocused the figures become, the more lifelike they appear. He enlarges the figures to a human scale so that the viewer reads them in a human parallel.
The characters are named and dated to suggest lives, personalities and captured moments in time. Stalker and Duke, reborn as Duane and Michael, have cast off their regulated combat gear in favour of a more gay-oriented uniform- check shirt, leather cap, waistcoat and trousers creating an instantly identifiable image. Such clone-like clothing parodies the conformity and dress code ordered by the gay scene.
These photographs conjure up the twilight nightlife of club and bars where partners go cruising, alone or together in a determined search for new conquest- stereotypes in appearance and action. The figures often appear in dark and shadowy scenes to evoke the tension of a cruising ground, Evans offers a grim picture in witch individuality is consumed by a desire to conform; his work also suggests the excited of the chase, and the excitement of the unknown. In this emotion-free world it is image that is more important than intelligence.