Lucijan Osvald, Golden Baby (2022)

Oil on Canvas, 120cm x 90cm.

Situated in an interior, in the corner of which a narrow bed is placed in front of a window, two figures confront us: their faces covered by golden masks, directed immediately towards us. The depiction of an interior, a space traditionally associated with the feminine sphere, on the one hand evokes a kind of intimacy – an intimacy that is mirrored in the interaction of the two figures. On the other hand, it is the perspective of the room that constitutes the viewer as a participant in the scene, as they are undoubtedly placed inside this interior too. In this way, the image produces a voyeuristic suspense, which is reinforced further through the golden masks – disguising the figures’ identities and redirecting our gaze onto their bodies. Being halted by the shiny gold of the figure’s mask, the viewer’s gazes moves onward and begins to trace the outlines of their muscular bodies, engages with the touch of the two figures, becoming part of the erotic game that might be at play. The figures interact with each other, their bodies touch, but the situation remains ambiguous. Through the window as well as through the smartphone, which the figure laying down holds in their hands, two contrasting realities reference each other: one that is taking place in the outside world, the other within the digital realm. In this context, it may as well be asked, whether the scene we see is a fantasy of only a single person, embodying the two personas in the image, both claiming different notions of masculinity that are projected onto their bodies. Whereas the kneeling figure is defined through an almost hypermasculine statue (with the texture of his golden mask reflecting the contrast-rich outlines of his body), the second figure lying on the bed appears more androgyne, less active, maybe even submissive. Masculinity – performative as any gender identification – is staged as a masquerade.

Lucijan Osvald (*2000, Ljubljana, Slovenia) is a student at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Studio for Figurative Painting. Since 2020, he holds a scholarship from the Slovenian Ministry of Culture.

Text: Rebecca Stephanie Schmidt