the eroticism of gloves

Occasionally a comment can take work in a new direction. My friend Maria in Spain wrote to me about an aspect of the violet-gloved Jordan Morley maquette that I hadn’t much thought about when I was making it. But when Maria mentioned the gloves, and moreover made an analogy that really grabbed my attention, I was off and away exploring the possibilities of incorporating her idea in the new paintings I’m working on for Dark Movements, for which the ‘gloved’ maquette is a preparation.

Maria wrote to me:

“I love the ‘violet’ gloves, and the way he uses them. Reminds me a bit of a treatise my grandmother gave me, on the use beautiful ladies of her youth made of fans. What they covered, what they showed for a tiny fragment of time, what every movement meant. They used their fans in special coded ways, as a kind of mysterious language.”

I replied:

“The notion of Jordan’s violet gloves being the formal equivalent of ‘fan language’, is an intriguing one. I love the idea of the be-gloved hands hiding and revealing… as they do in my photographs of the maquette… and of them evolving almost into separate entities. I shall have to create an elaborate series of coded gestures for them, just as your grand mamma observed in the beautiful ladies of Spain, executing coquettish displays of allure by means of fans!”

“Maria, I don’t quite know how the gloves have slipped into this work. I don’t, as far as I can remember, have a glove fetish, though I clearly favour partial stages of undress to complete nudity, and I can’t deny the eroticism of Jordan’s semi-nakedness combined with those tightly fitted, vivid gloves. Certainly the jacket and the gloves together produce a fetishistic and homoerotic tone in the images. The maquette is in preparation of a series of paintings for my forthcoming exhibition, ‘Dark Movements’, and I think, Maria, that you have just upped the stakes for me in the way I approach the new works. Thank you!”

We’ll see where all this leads!

12 thoughts on “the eroticism of gloves

  1. Clive, what another fascinating twist “Dark Movements” has taken, with your response to Maria’s observation, whose Artlog comments I always find interesting and perceptive.

    You already know that I love the idea of Jordan as your 21st century muse, as it shows how social media can be used by an artist in a really creative way. Therefore, it is wonderful to see how you are now being inspired by the readers of your blog, as you introduce Jordan into your work for the first time.

    I can only paraphrase the words of Mr Shakespeare to describe this deeply compelling be-gloved version of Jordan you are currently creating (the sex of the subject in the quote has been changed by me for dramatic effect!):

    “See, how he leans his cheek upon his hand!
    O that I were a glove upon that hand,
    That I might touch that cheek!”

    The “Dark Movements” series of paintings is shaping up to be something entirely different to what we have seen before from your deeply personal exploration of the subject of the Mari Lwyd. I see Jordan as such a positive life force that your Mari Lwyd cannot fail to be changed by their forthcoming existential dance.

    • It was the custom in Tudor times for a young man to wear his lover’s glove as a ‘trophy’ in his hat, and in the illustrated edition of the Barnfield Sonnets I made for The Old Stile Press I used the image of a gauntlet as a vignette, and the symbol was reworked into a repeat-pattern for the endpapers of my Lund Humphries Monograph. I think there’s potency in the notion of slowly peeling a well-fitted glove from the skin beneath it!

      Device for the endpapers of the Barnfield Sonnets

      The Elizabethan poets and lyricists were masters of cranking up the sexual tension. In his eighth sonnet, Richard Barnfield writes:

      “Sometimes I wish that I his pillow were,
      So might I steal a kiss, and yet not seen…”

      Heart-swooningly romantic.

        • Indeed! and far more interesting than the White Rabbit fussing around for his missing gloves in Alice in Wonderland. Unless one finds rabbits erotic, I suppose. Which I don’t. I think there’s a gorgeous contrast between what the gloved hand feels and what the body being touched by the gloved hand experiences. Perhaps such contrasts are the basis of eroticism? Gosh, it’s exciting seeing this project unfold 🙂

            • I think the Mari Lwyd has rather a coquettish look in a few of the preparatory images Clive has posted. Perhaps it’s all this talk of Elizabethan romance at the Artlog?

              At other times I must say the grey mare is looking decidedly ravenous, when confronted with the be-gloved Jordan. Perhaps she is the one who is developing a glove fetish?!

  2. I think it all stemmed from your photo of Jordan peeling his partner’s glove off in that dance of his … in a post you made while in preparation for this maquette… which made one sing Gilda’s “Put the blame on Mame, boys”!)

    This is already Great, but it promises to be even greater.
    The only drawback: This part of your show will probably have to be restricted for adults only, in a special room…

    Thank You. Thank You. Thank You

    • Thank you Maria, and doubly so for sparking such a great idea for me.

      Shall we have to issue a warning at the gallery? Mmmmm, I’ll enquire, but I shouldn’t think so. The Arts Centre where ‘Dark Movements’ is to show is very grown up, and people are pretty familiar with bodies these days.

      Love from chilly Wales!

      • I wish I were a bit younger, to be able to travel to your show.

        It is quite chilly here in Madrid, too. ( I live midway between the Guadarrama Sierra and the city )
        So love back from chilly Madrid!

        P.S. By the way, the glove-peeling came in the video of Jordan dancing, as I remember now. It was really something.

        • Never fear. We will chart the exhibition very thoroughly here at the Artlog. Not the same as being there, but nevertheless you will experience online most of what is to be seen in the space.

          I linked to the video, which shows an few extracts from the Kyle Abraham-choreographed piece, in your comment, so others may look. Jordan is off today to perform with the company in L.A. for a week.

          Very Best

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