Most ancient Roman cities had at least one, if not many. Baths were a very common place for men to meet each other and were extremely important part of their culture. These institutions were centers for socializating as well as public bathing and and the men usually stayed there for several hours each day. Wealthier Romans were accompanied by one or more slaves. After paying a fee, they would walk around naked wearing only sandals to protect their feet from heated floors. The slaves carried their masters‘ towels and got them drinks. Before bathing, the patrons exercised, maybe with some running, weight-lifting, oil wrestling, or swimming. Fast forward to the concept of today‘s gay saunas and not much has changed through the centuries in this for men only sanctuary.
Treat your self to a nice hot bath
However, in reality this ritualistic act has mostly been replaced with the convenience of a daily shower in most people‘s busy schedule. They start their day with jumping out of bed, take a quick shower, gulp down some coffee with breakfast, run off to work for the day, later driving to the gym for a quick set, then meet some friends fo happy hour or a dinner, then finally go home to get some sleep, and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Rarely does one take the time, or even allow the time to relax and meditate in a hot bath as they did back then. This new age hectic kind of lifestyle will eventually take it‘s toll on anyone, both physically and mentally. It‘s time to slow things down some and enjoy life a bit more.
Boner presents Venezuelan born painter Jean Carlos Puerto to show you how this is done. These selected Hombre Bañeras paintings from Puerto visualise this ritual of bathing from the viewpoint of a voyeur. In these paintings, his sensual bather is shown in a series of poses that evoke a sense of both intimacy and solitude. Puerto expertly creates an elegant and very detailed environment but at the same time the elements in the composition are kept to a bare minimum. This deliberate minimalism prevents each work from giving us more clues as to what is actually happening with each equally meditative and haunting pose. Is this a historical depiction of a situation or a scene from the present day? Are these intimate self portraits? Is the subject alone here or turning his face away from someone who is in the room with him? After viewing these seductive paintings of the mysterious nude and wet latino and imagining so many different outcomes from these seemimgly innocent portraits, I am left with lots of questions. What am I looking at here?
After studying these Hombre Bañeras, my conclusion here is that the artist has succeeded in creating a mood of serenity and solitude with his paintings but also leaves each open to other interpretations. They engage the viewer and draw them into a steamy room to explore the possibiities that are waiting to be experienced.
Go ahead treat your self to a nice hot bath either to relax and meditate in solitude, or have a splash of a good time with a few fun seeking partners as the Romans did. (bb)