OCHI is pleased to present Male Gays, an exhibition of new paintings by artist Brea Weinreb. This is the artist's first solo exhibition with the gallery. Male Gays will be on view at OCHI, located at 3301 W Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles, California from September 23 through November 4, 2023. An Artist’s Reception will be held on Saturday, September 23rd from 5:00 to 8:00 PM PST.
Merging moments of observation, art appreciation, intimacy, and play, the figurative paintings in Male Gays subvert the traditionally patriarchal dynamics of the artist’s studio and its legacy as an active site of the male gaze. Using her workspace as a stage, Weinreb directs a theatrical cohort of gay male muses to intentionally play with the objectifying ways men have historically looked at women. As a queer woman painting gay men, Weinreb’s gaze is neither a direct reversal of the male gaze nor a complete denial of it. The sexualization and voyeurism is still there—however it is done consciously, with the consent of her subjects, and marked with the intimacy, understanding, and humor that is unique to the queer-on-queer gaze, regardless of gender.
Having previously painted scenes of Pride celebrations in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park, Weinreb now offers viewers a more intimate look into her process and relationship to queerness. Soon after moving to Los Angeles, Weinreb befriended a group of gay men who offered to come to her Downtown studio and pose for her. Donning outfits and sipping cocktails, these men would dance, laugh, lounge, leaf through books, turn studio tools into props, and paintings in progress into backdrops—as Weinreb documented and directed. Within this all-queer space, this group—Weinreb included— were free to perform their identities openly and joyously. As a result, tongue-in-cheek references to queer culture flow seamlessly throughout the paintings. One figure licks a painting of a butt, tubes squirt out suggestive globs of paint, and the queens in a deck of playing cards sport mustaches. As paintings unfolded over multiple modeling sessions, the studio became activated as a place for not only observation but also performance and play.
Drawing attention to her process, Weinreb’s dense, multilayered paintings feature unfinished drawings, paintings propped on cinderblocks and easels, multiple paint trolleys, clamp lights, handwritten notes, mirrors, an iPad full of source material, and piles and shelves of art books. Weinreb paints her protagonists sprawled and studying the history of painting, from Renaissance painters like Piero della Francesca and Titian to French Modernists like Cezanne, Bazille, Renoir, and Degas—highlighting the myriad ways the male gaze has persisted throughout the canon of art history. In homage to the Modern and contemporary artists who have paved the way for interventions to this gaze, Weinreb also includes references to Nicole Eisenman, Salman Toor, and Frida Kahlo, amongst others. The painting Renoir Girlies (2023) references one of Renoir’s iconic bather compositions, in which Weinreb partially removes the female figures with paper cut outs—an art historical intervention—and offers a homoerotic scene of nude male bodies lounging knowingly in their place.
Weinreb demystifies and bends the traditional male gaze by fragmenting time and space and providing multiple points of view, including the subject’s gaze back towards the artist. Glimpses of Weinreb can be found in several paintings reflected in mirrors, shaped into the negative space of a composition, or as a pair of Crocs peeking out from behind a canvas, but she presents herself fully in the painting Queen of the Gaze (2023). The artist, framed perfectly within the canvas, is standing in her studio surrounded by her subjects, holding a dripping paintbrush and cementing herself as the author of these stories.
Brea Weinreb (b. 1994, Mineola, NY) received a dual B.A. in Art Practice and English from the University of California, Berkeley. Weinreb’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues including Monya Rowe Gallery in New York, NY; Taymour Grahne Projects and Beers in London, United Kingdom; Sow & Tailor at Woaw Gallery in Hong Kong, China; Kristin Hjellegjarde at Schloss Görne in Berlin, Germany; Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston, MA; and Anat Ebgi Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. Weinreb’s work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, California Art Review, ArtMaze Magazine, and New American Paintings. Her work is included in the Green Family Art Foundation’s public collection in Dallas, TX. Weinreb currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.