The Big Bad Daddies of HvHBy John Calendo / Friday, April 13th, 2007
“I think the human body is a remarkable machine in all its shapes and sizes,” says Portuguese artist HvH.
This refreshing point of view is exactly what drew us to the artist’s graphic celebration of bears and even overweight men.
When we asked if he were attracted perhaps exclusively to bears, HvH gave us the sort of answer that — while it let slip nothing really personal — seemed to embrace all humanity:
“I am linked to the ‘bears movement’ but only because I started showing my erotic work on a bears website,” he said. “Even there, I drew all sorts of characters: young, old — bears, twinkies, transsexuals. Men and women.”
In a world of gay art that magnifies standard perfection and beguiles us with studly impossibilities, HvH strikes out for wider vistas and undiscovered continents, where the natives, with their chunky down-to-earth bodies and odd “imperfections,” are just as hot and universal yet so different from the sons of Tom of Finland that we know and love back home.
“I simply enjoy the body,” explains HvH with charming directness. “Human skin, for me, is sensual by nature.”
HvH also enjoys wrapping himself in a fog of mystery. One might say he has made of anonymity an aesthetic. Even the HvH of his signature is not his real initials, but “a game on my name.”
In fact, one of his emails exploded into a series of lol’s after we speculated that perhaps the v in his signature — usually written lowercase and sandwiched between two beefy capital H‘s — stood for von. Might he not be, we continued on a wild flight of fancy, some wayward German count who wanted to buffer a royal family name from the huge chests, hairy asses, and beer-can dicks of his — if not noble, certainly egalitarian — art work.
“I always have a lot of fun with the explanations people come up with, ” he said, referring to his initials. As for the facts of his life, he would only allow that he had once been a well-known magazine illustrator and advertising exec before he remade himself as HvH, homoerotic Master of the Man-Bear.
For all we knew, we persisted (just to have a little fun with him), he might even be a woman! A confetti of lol’s followed that one. He assured us with great amiability that he was indeed a guy. And truly, his work seems too authentically homosexual, captures the whole bear thing in too deft and manly a way to be that far-flung an act of the imagination.
In light of this, it will come as no surprise that the mysterious HvH declined our standard request for an artist’s photo. All he would concede was his actual age — ever the mark of the young and reckless. He had just turned 35 on April 2.
“I’d rather show my signature than my mug,” he explained, even after we suggested he do a cartoon-style portrait of himself. ” I kind of like that the HvH logo has become an entity on its own, independent from the flesh and blood me. I couldn’t care less if I was recognized. I’m not looking to get free drinks at the next gay bar.”
With his first graphic novel due out in a few months, HvH will for the first time emphasize hardcore bear-on-bear action — an explicitness that has been largely absent from his work.
“All the magazines I work for have strict policies about what pornography is and what the illustrators are not supposed to draw. But even if this weren’t so, I prefer to draw the moments before the sexual act occurs. I really rather do sexy than sexual.”
“Thing is I don’t like to draw that much. No, that’s not right. I love to draw, but only when I see a purpose in it. Meaning, when I’m hired to do something that I know will reach an audience. Unlike so many artists, I won’t draw just for the sake of it and watch it pile up in my office.”
HvH likes to sketch out his work with pencil and paper and then scan it into the computer. He then refines the drawing with a point-by-point vector program, converting over to bitmaps when he’s ready to add color depth and shading. “One other aspect is the textures I use when painting. Some of them are pictures I take with a digital camera for that purpose.”
As for major influences, he cites a 1960â€™s Portuguese artist named JoÃ£o Abel Manta (“the thick outlines and the sense of design”), as well as fellow gay artists (and Nightcharm favorites) Glen Hanson and Patrick Fillion.
“What I really admire nowadays is the spectacular diversity of homoerotic illustration,” he says. “Whether someone is doing stuff thatâ€™s more cartoony or more realistic, each and every one has found a particular and unique way of celebrating our sexuality.
“I love that gay erotica today is something proud and cheerful.”
Want more HvH?
HvH is also a frequent contributor to Men Magazine,
Freshmen Magazine, and Unzipped Magazine
©2013 Nightcharm, Inc.; All Rights Reserved.