One’s defined sexuality is that of construed formalities where many of which remain layered beneath a bedrock of ambiguity.

gallerywest’s latest exhibit featured the paintings and photographs from Randal Fedje, a Saskatchewan-born artist now residing in Toronto. The work highlighted provocative and sexualized portraiture, inviting the wandering eye to sharpen its focus. The exhibit looked at masculinity as a multi-faceted term, one that stretches beyond mundane catch phrases.

“Masculinity seems to be more of an umbrella term. It is made up of a multitude of parts just as a person’s personality is made up of many parts, all of which make the person who they are,” explains Fedje.

The exhibit featured paintings that were created in Randal’s bedroom in a very cramped and confined space. Much of the work featured elements of dress. Dress becomes a very distinguishable aesthetic and encourages the onlooker to embrace the life-like mirroring of real people. The subjects presented were all queer men existent in Randal’s life.

“Clothing can be a very delicate balance and because these are portraits of real people I wanted to use clothing to help tell their story or at least help me add to my vision of who they are.” From horn add-ons to bondage pursuits – the weaving of identity becomes interlocked in a puzzle of mind – meets – body emancipation.

“Queerness and masculinity are subjects that people live with everyday, but people don’t investigate them often.”

Randal highlights ‘Michael’ as the strongest crossover example. ‘Michael’ embodies a symbolism of masculinity, but also deals with notions of power struggle and power play. Fedje notes Cindy Sherman and Evergon as key staples in the self-portrait and queer creation realm. He also points to Ricky Swallow and ceramicist Marek Cecula as artists bridging the traditional customs of construction with striking clouds of modernity. When asked about artists he’d love to collaborate with Randal cites all the above, and of course a legend in sexual awakenings, Andy Warhol.

“Yes, Andy Warhol, but specifically with his drag photography and his play on gender and dress – I found all that to be quite fascinating.”

More of Randal’s work can be found on flickr

The paintings range from 24 x 30 inches to 5 x 2 and half feet. Each are oil on wood and are realist portraiture. The photographs are 11 x 14 digital prints and are all self-portraits.