After a stint in Austin, Rapport returns to his spiritual home for a show at Strut, the wellness center slash gallery space in the Castro, for a solo show titled “In the Springtime at His Voodoo.” Opening tomorrow, May 5, it’s a celebration of sexuality, with many of the figures depicted in his work displaying an erotic tension that might be described as “Will they or won’t they (or did they just)?”
Selected last November, Rapport has been working to fill the show with as many pieces as possible. (Since Strut permits artists to keep 100 percent of their sales, it behooves people to get off their tuchises and produce as much as they can.) He’ll have pieces at all price points, so that “if someone wants to buy a $200 piece they can — or a $2,000 piece, they can.”
Working in watercolors and in acrylics, has an aesthetic that’s decidedly queer. He makes fingerless leather gloves that read “BUTT LOVE” across the eight knuckles, T-shirts of naked butts that read “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” and intensely erotic, multihued visions of couples and orgy scenes. Much of it is tinged with sadness and heartbreak, as in the lyrical pairings to the images in his coloring book, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.
For that project, he “purposely chose images that felt unromantic to me, and very detached and casual, and I paired them with lyrics that felt very soft and and tender,” he says. “I feel like with this new stuff, the figures I’m pairing together, there’s an intimacy with the poses. The interaction is definitely more one-on-ones now, and not group scenes. So the lyrics tend to be more on the melancholy side, not as soft. They’re more biting.”
“There’s sort of a switch that happened,” he adds, “The lyrics have gotten harsher, but the images are more tender.”
Rather than anything hardcore or explicit, there’s a lot of scenes of what he calls “almost kisses,” a gesture from people who are “a centimeter away from actual contact.”
“I’m actually into trying to convey breath, a breeze in the air, and delicate, soft things as simple as a wisp of hair,” he says.
Strut features a collection each month, and while Rapport’s art will be up through May 27, you can check it out before anyone else at the opening tomorrow evening from 8 to 10 p.m. (Check out his Instagram here.) Ideally, Rapport wants to build his line of apparel up with more shirts and hoodies, and channel any surplus time and energy into a monthly craft fair that eventually becomes a brick-and-mortar gallery in Los Angeles that shows the work of local and international LGBTQ artists.
“Especially with the climate we’re in, the opportunity to do something like that felt like I have the obligation to do it,” he says.
Nathan Rapport, “In the Springtime of His Voodoo,” May 5, 8-10 p.m., at Strut, 470 Castro St., strutsf.org.