Jul 11, 2016
The Beefcake Paintings of Nikos Engonopoulos
But the work of other surrealists rarely depicted beefcake (even though Dali was gay).
Engonopoulous stayed away from beefcake during the 1930s and 1940s, and filled his poetry with images of desirable women rather than men.
But near the end of his career he began to paint stylized, faceless men with broad shoulders and narrow waists, a reflection of standards of male beauty of his childhood. And they all have penises.
Most were not put on display, but given as gifts to his friends, as if they were private visions.
Cafe, les pallicares (1956) depicts soldiers in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1828) standing beneath a Greek flag in a cafe. The swordsman, the waiter, and the toga-clad philosopher suggest icons of male sensuality like the leatherman and the cowboy in the U.S.
I don't know why Engonopoulos experienced such a burst of masculine energy late in his life. Maybe he was coming out. Or maybe he just wanted a hero.
See also: The Penis Festival of Greece