Paul Rumsey is the artist responsible for creating some of the best penis drawings I’ve ever seen. He’s a great artist irrespective of the content, but the ones containing man’s best friend are just brilliant. Blatantly graphic yet surprisingly analytic. He is one of those people I’d like to sit and talk to for an hour or two. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie, what I’d really like to do is fire a load of questions at him then sit and listen to him doing the talking. I’m intrigued as to whether he sees men in two distinct camps, one of which is just a dick and the others which are mentally complex, like to compartmentalize, and have an underlying need for mental order. I’d also be asking him just how he perceives the apparent mind/body split and if it’s more a case of men being torn between the need for rational order and those bodily impulses that appear to arise from the genitals. Does he see men as behaving like dicks when they’re carrying on like a pair of old dinosaurs? I’m sure you must have witnessed at least one of those situations…two blokes and they’re in the pub, or some other public domain and they’re arguing about shite, and none of it really matters, and neither of them is applying any logic. Some might mistakenly see it as a clash of ego, but I reckon Paul Rumsey, and others I’m sure, see it as a typical case of male hormone running amok.
The over-sized penis is perhaps symbolic of a body part being given way too much input in life, but it could also be saying that the common man is largely unaware of just how much his penis is involved in his ‘rational’ actions. There seems to be a need here to confront the reality of having a body. In the second image, the props being worn by the men make it difficult for them to see what’s underneath, and yet the dicks appear to have a life of their own and look like their sniffing each other out. Is this a reference to - it doesn’t matter how much you try to educate yourself and ignore your basic instincts, your subconscious is still going to be active, and you’ll experience sensation whether you like it or not? And when I say sensation, I’m referring to emotion such as fear and anxiety as much as I’m referring to two men trying to suss each other out to see who is the more alpha of the two.
He has some incredible pieces of work, and much of it is considerably better than the examples I’ve shown here, but in my defense - I got distracted by the Freudian undercurrents of the ones displaying genitals, although I did manage to include a couple of the complex head shots for reference. Whenever there’s a genital displayed in art, there is always the danger that it will be looked at in a purely sexual way, but I think it would be a mistake to do that with the work of Rumsey. His work is dark, intense, and unafraid to confront horror. He’s considered an outsider in his chosen field and yet ironically, his work displays a sensitivity and awareness to that which is present in us all. In my eyes, his inclusion of the male member in his work speaks of the lack of true reasoning that takes place in a so-called civilized society, but does he himself think that? Just how much personal awareness is going into his creations?
Paul’s website is here and is well work worth a visit.
One of his daughters has set up a Facebook page and it’s well managed and kept up to date and comes complete with a folder that has rare and internet unseen artwork. New work is posted often along with details on exhibitions and other stuff.
Whilst in the process of moving from Wordpress, I'd left this post over at the old blog and Paul Rumsey actually left a comment today which said....
Thanks for posting, glad that you like them. Your reading of the drawings is correct.
The drawings of the men with the props so that they can’t see their penises are preaching, so that series is about religion.
If you search for ‘Metamorphic genitalia and fantastical sexual images’ you will find the Art and Popular Culture wiki where there are links to many other examples of these penis men from the history of art. I helped compile the list.
The book by Bakhtin ‘Rabelais and His World’ is good to read on the theories of the grotesque and the use of what he calls ‘the lower bodily stratum’ to mock the authority of power, church, state, etc.
I am just mocking men, so many stupid things in the world can only be understood as projections of masculinity, so I draw them as penises.
If you search ‘GOP dildo’ you will find the American love of guns mocked using the same methods.
All the best,