Scale’s paintings push the limits of furry art, with surprising mainstream crossover.
by Patch O'Furr
(NSFW – nude paintings below!)
In “Furry Good Ideas“, Scale commented on my suggestion about starting a Furry art gallery:
Not sure if the times are ripe for a dedicated furry art gallery, but for what it’s worth I’m having some success entering furry paintings in local art shows… I’m also making a bet that a market niche for paintings actually exists within the the fandom and that a decent number of fans would like to own furry art which can be displayed alongside other kinds of art. The results are very encouraging so far.
The article was meant to encourage feedback like this, revealing a cool new story. Nice to meet you, Scale!
Scale does classical style anthropomorphic figure painting. Public display of his work puts him in a favorite focus of this blog: crossover. He isn’t just showing regular fantasy art to the public, either. It’s both painterly, and super hot! It’s the best of both worlds. Look at the dragoness below… the attitude, the pose, the voluptuous sculpted butt… excuse me while I fan my face for a minute.
I’m happy to share this as a nice surprise to the chairman of Eurofurence. He commented on my article about Biohazard’s crossover art stunt:
We’re seeing a little subcultural eruption, from as far across the line of “low art” as you can get. Scale’s art is pushing limits. His cool, thoughtful style speaks of Old Master sensibility, but the hot-blooded subjects are a weird combination that makes sparks. Isn’t that what art is for? The way people respond to it brings interesting thoughts about art meaning:
The bunny painting was accepted in the show without any problem. I keep finding evidence that most non-furries don’t read a picture like that one as a sexy pinup… I suspect most people just see it as a parody of human nudes.
OK, it’s sexy to furry fans (5,000 on his popular FurAffinity account), but he thinks it doesn’t communicate like that to the “normal” public. Is that a failure? Would they show it if it doesn’t speak to them? It has to work as simply good painting. It’s an example for furry artists: don’t make good furry art – make good art.
“Furry Good Ideas” suggested that a Furry gallery could succeed by pushing limits with adult art at a permanent venue. Scale answered:
The appeal of furry art doesn’t lie in shock value or kinkiness, it lies in playfulness and non-anthropocentrism, in our peculiar ways of preserving childish fantasies about animals so they end up entangled with adult fantasies and serious introspection.
This is a good point about the value of art that’s sexy to furries, but not so much to “normal” viewers. It makes me think of the way outsiders don’t get furries without becoming one. The meaning is in how it makes you feel – so it’s good to aim for feeling beyond just kink. That usually doesn’t happen when outsiders try to mimic what they think furries are. To us, it looks like a fake, shallow parody that doesn’t say anything. (See: The “Furverts” photography book that uses cheap Halloween costumes.) Outsiders can joke about it, but they can’t do it if they try. Only furries make anthro art that’s good, sexy and sincere.
Scale gives a look inside his art shows.
“I selected for you some photos of the events I’ve joined so far.
These photos are from my very first exhibition back in 2012. It was organized by a local art club where I have taken painting and life drawing classes in the past. The setting was very beautiful being inside an ancient library hall and some of the artists who were also musicians played a small concert at the opening. I have been painting since 2006 but until 2012 I didn’t feel I had the skill or the nerve to actually show my paintings around, even though looking back there was little to be concerned about other than my terrible clothes at the opening:
One of my teachers at the club classes was slightly concerned about the use of religious imagery in the feline avatar picture, but the show’s curator said there would be no problem with it as the painting was neither mocking not disrespectful of the imagery. Interestingly I received the same criticism online though when the picture was selected as Daily Deviation on DeviantArt.”
“Photo from an art contest: I didn’t win anything but I certainly don’t expect to, mainstream art contests are large and newcomers usually enter just to start getting their name out there. It’s funny that my picture was placed in the naturalistic art category along with paintings of real animals. ”
“In this instance I entered two more risque pictures. The bunny picture requires a mature-only flag on most furry art sites, but nobody expressed any concern about it and as you can see in the photos it was even displayed on the street at one point. Here’s where the gap between the online art world and the fine art world really begins to show I guess…”
“Photo from an exhibition held once a year in my city by another art club I’m member of.”
“Photos from a huge indie art fair held in my city. This time I could attend the opening, take better photo and listen to people’s comments directly. More information here.”
“I couldn’t usually attend the openings, so I had to rely on photos of acquaintances. The photos show the important aspects of the exhibitions, that is the variety of art on display and the people actually commenting on the artwork and interacting with it. It may sound silly but displaying furry paintings along with other paintings of all genres is so thrilling! Even though these shows are small and relaxed it feels like your art is being tested on a real battlefield. You can’t avoid comparisons or criticism and you can see whether your art holds up much better than you can when you see it in an online gallery.
Later this year I’ll have much more material and better photos. I’ll be joining other events in the following months. Though it will take a while till I have enough paintings for a solo exhibition, which would be the real “level up”.
Here is a selection from my 2015 exhibitions so far:”
“The locations are getting more interesting as I learn to network with the people in the field; one of them is a hotel lobby which will have a lot of visitors since it’s located in a convention center which is currently hosting Expo related events as well as the largest book fair in Italy.”
“The best exhibitions were actually scheduled for May…”
“By the way, I greatly enjoyed your interview with Biohazard. I remember seeing his artwork in the 90s but I had no idea he had ventured into mainstream art auctions, good thing he kept the videos. It all happened before concerns about the fandom’s public image were even a thing… I wonder whether the fandom’s history would have taken a different turn had he found a better venue to keep selling his artwork to the general public. I guess he was very unlucky because I have seen works in some contemporary art shows which were more explicit than most of his pictures.
Anyway it is very inspiring stuff for me. :-)”
How much do these cost? I wish I could buy that hot dragoness, but good for him it sold. Hopefully we can hear more from Scale in the comments.