Anthony Gayton Photography

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The English photographer Anthony Gayton (Devon, 1986) first began taking pictures at the age of sixteen using friends and family as models.

He went on to study photography at the University of Westminster, London and was awarded the Agfa Bursary to complete his BA (Hons) Degree in 1990. After several joints exhibitions in London, in 1993 he moved to Vienna where he became the assistant of Andreas H. Bitesnich, an artist specialized in portraits and nudes. He only started taking pictures again in 1998, and after almost a decade began to pursue the themes which had interested him in the past, the overt homoeroticism in his work being the only major alteration.

“Ever since the Victorians first began to “truthfully” record on film the existence of fairies, ghosts and other such creatures of the spirit world, it became evident that the claim of photography as a window on the real world was tenuous to say the least. At university in London, we were taught the veracity of photography, and it was considered our duty to record the world around us exactly as we found it. Any form of image manipulation was looked upon with extreme disapproval, and the dizzy, superficial realms of fashion photography considered the ultimate sin; it represented the triumph of style over meaning. Coming from art school, this puritanical attitude seemed to me not only scarily conformist, but absurdly naive. To me, the beauty of photography lay exactly in its ability to surprise, and contradict itself, to challenge perceptions of the real and invent new truths by telling convincing lies. I determined to follow the Victorian fantasists view of photography, and quickly set about with abandon, photographing unicorns, mermaids and centaurs. At the time, I thought I had learned nothing of any practical use during my time at university. Certainly we had had little or no contact to the industry, and within two weeks as an assistant, I had learned more technically than I had in those three years. In retrospect, I can see that what had been stimulated ie. a sense of conscience and consciousness, was as vital a part of creativity as technical skill and a knowledge of history and culture. It then took me eight years to pick up where I had left off. Althought my work since has undoubtedly been heavily influenced by my experiences as photographer’s assistant in the fashion and advertising industry, much of my work echoes the interests and themes which had already occupied me in the past.”

Many of his photos are digitally retouched and inspired by myths, characters or pictorial representations with male erotic connotations. So, he has reinterpreted paintings from Italian Renaissance, homoerotic myths as Ganymede, Icarus or Narcissus and religious icons as St. Sebastian, traditionally used by painters as a model of male beauty. Many of his images are indeed homages to his favourite artists such as Caravaggio, Cocteau & Von Gloeden. His work ranges from fantasy mythologies and animal-like princes, heavenly virtues in photo novel, Victorian obsessions in timeless portraits, sinners and saints, adorned with series in the manner of and in homage to to explore an iconography that spans time and covers dreamlike spaces and styles in order to always vary. He has photographed for many of the worlds top magazines and in 2005 he has published his book “Sinners and saints”, a stunning collection of homoerotic images presenting a provocative body of work based on the history of gay culture.

 

 

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