Portraits Examine Public vs. Private

This ongoing series by Josh Rains pairs portraits of friends who identify as queer, gay, lesbian, or transgendered alongside a portrait of a sex offender living within close proximity according to state regulated sex offender registration websites, including Illinois and California. Loose, wet, textural brushstrokes drip and flow to produce an almost idyllic, serene portrait; a contrast to the crimes behind some of the faces.

Each diptych is displayed without any indication of who is a friend and who is a sex offender. The lack of information on each individual mirrors the vague information listed on most sex registration websites. Without any historical information, the subjects become blank slates on which prejudices, stereotypes, and immediate assumptions produce the narrative of the diptych.

The choice to use queer-identified friends as one-half of each diptych was intentional. Given that consensual homosexual sex was criminalized in many states as early as 2003, this body of work asks the viewer to consider why sexual behavior is apt to be subjected to scrutiny, public shaming, and state regulation. All work is oil on canvas in the form of a 40” x 20” diptych and the full series is posted on his website.

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