Jul 11, 2016

The Beefcake Paintings of Nikos Engonopoulos

Nikos Engonopoulos (1903-1985) was a Greek painter of the surrealist movement, a colleague of Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali.

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.

Two Soldiers and a Philosopher (1951) are three other types of Greek masculinity, one nude.

Hunter and Watchmaker (1975).  I don't know the significance of the hunter and the watchmaker, but time is passing, and through the window we can see the sea.  Maybe they're a gay couple.

The Death of Archimedes (1950-60).  Archimedes was a mathematician and inventor who died at the hands of the Romans during the Second Punic War (Syracuse is visible in flames through the window)

Hero (Philopoemen), undated, but probably from the 1950s.  Philopoemen was an ancient Greek general (strategos).

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