Mike Kuchar’s Broken Gods

A Monster’s Gift, 2018, Ink and marker on paper, 26.75 x 24.25 inches

All photos courtesy of the Artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles
Photos by Robert Wedemeyer

Mike Kuchar’s work is a joyful blast of colour, sex and humour, in an art world that needs it. The first time I saw his drawings was after a long, jading day of Material Art Fair; they were a welcomed surprise – crass, playful, and funny. Mike says his aim is to put “a bit more fun to viewing pictures.” His latest exhibition Broken Gods, currently on view at Ghebaly Gallery, is invigorating, no holds barred. Mike and his twin brother George made their name as iconic figures of the burgeoning underground film community in 1960s New York. The twins’ over-the-top, Romance-sci-fi movies were shot on 8mm film with little to no budget. John Waters sources the Kuchar Brothers as a source of inspiration, calling them “complete crackpots without an ounce of pretension.”

Mike’s transition to illustration, his “little secret career,” began as a way to make extra money, illustrating erotica for 70s mag Gay Heart Throbs, and other beefcake magazines popular at the time. The proliferation of such underground gay comics and publications produced many illustrators adept in their depictions of male horniness. However Mike’s mastery over the medium, combined with his pioneering influence on camp and gay cinema, is uniquely embraced by an art world that could use a little bit of mischief. Bob Mizer, the founder of Physique Pictorial, said of Tom of Finland’s characters, “ They momentarily transport us from the real world, filled with almost oppressive mediocrity, to one peopled by the stalwart heroes we would all like to be.” Mike’s characters do just that, gladiators, pirates, jocks, and devils with cartoonish masculine bodies and massive, enviable dicks. – Claire Milbrath

Installation view

Satyr Sam, 2018, Ink and marker on paper, 29 x 21.5 inches

Heaven’s Gift, Satan’s Toy, 2018, Ink and marker on paper, 30.5 x 21.5 inches

Facing One’s Demons, 2015, Ink and marker on paper, 24.5 x 22 inches

Mythology, 2015, Ink and marker on paper, 30 x 22 inches

Big Daddy, 2018, Ink and marker on paper, 28.5 x 23.25 inches


Broken Gods is on view January 4-February 2nd, 2020 at Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles