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A Queer Narcissus

Works by Eli Ruhala


On view June 28-July 20, 2024

Visit Fort Worth Gallery


In Queer Narcissus, a narrative emerges from images compiled over the past three years. Each watercolor drawing abstracts compositions from snapshots taken of the artist by an amorous subject. These images, shared between lovers, transcend mere documentation; they serve as meditations on the intricacies of affection and the transformative power of shared gazes.

Drawing inspiration from Hermann Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund, my creative process reimagines the buffer of another’s gaze through the artist's body and hand. Each mark speaks to time and experience, reflecting the dualities of human connection explored by Hesse’s characters. These self-portraits thus become not only representations of relationships but avatars through which personal narratives unfold, echoing the split between Apollonian and Dionysian tendencies explored by Fredric Nietzche.

Embracing abstraction through a variety of techniques and the ephemeral, time-sensitive process of Gansai watercolor, each piece offers a vulnerable interpretation of the queer gaze. Installed alongside wooden frames, these works echo the process of growth, change, and transformation—mirroring the blank slate of the gallery wall as a conduit for the experiences the body undergoes.

Queer Narcissus offers viewers to stand inside the convergence of personal and shared experiences, where each stroke and hue narrates a story of love, growth, and the ever-evolving network of human connection. This gesture implicates the amorous subject and makes them part of a broader conversation. Through the lens of self-portraiture and inspired by the themes of Narcissus and Goldmund, this exhibition explores the intersections of identity, intimacy, and the gray areas of contemporaneity.




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