The French artist known as Regards Coupables—Guilty Looks, en anglais—observes a tradition he calls “Sunday Worship.” Every few days, he uploads a new illustration to Instagram, usually of a couple (sometimes an individual) either kissing or engaging in a sex act. But on Sundays, he specifically posts images of women receiving oral sex. Of all the erotic situations Regards Coupables draws, cunnilingus is most likely to be flagged as obscene by unwitting scrollers, but those illustrations are also especially popular with his account’s 550,000 followers.
The artist—who goes by Julian in conversation—has always made erotic illustrations, but explains that he’s more interested in the act than the human anatomy that facilitates it. What’s resulted is a style that’s sort of inadvertently tailor-made for social media. “I never draw any genital parts,” Julian says. His drawings are explicitly sexual, but they also demand that viewers use their imaginations. While the body parts he does draw—say, a pair of spread legs jutting into the air—suggest what’s happening, there are vast amounts of blank space where anything Instagram might consider obscene would be.
From February 9 through 11, Mid-Wilshire’s Allmost Gallery is hosting Regards Coupables’s first Los Angeles show, “I’m Bored Take Off Your Clothes”; he arrived in the U.S. on January 26 and has been creating works for the show—paintings in addition to his digital work—as an artist in residence. Discussing the willful omission that’s characteristic of Regards Coupables’s work, the gallery’s director of programming, Theresa Baxter, says, “I think it makes it more intriguing…it makes your mind fill in the blanks.”
Still, Julian was forced to relaunch Regards Coupables in August 2016 after Instagram deleted his account for violating its terms of service. The original account (@regardscoupables versus the new @regards_coupables) had nearly 60k likes, a following Julian had to rebuild from scratch.
In less than two years’ time, Regards Coupables’s Instagram following has exploded, and Julian believes it’s because he focuses on imagery that features women in control of sexual situations. “I realized that approach was very contemporary,” he says. Besides his digital art, he’s currently working on a web series about talking vaginas starting a revolution; the pilot episode, which is still a work in progress, is called “Pussy for President.”
He adds, “I’m talking about strong women, and it’s what we need today and what we are talking about every day. I think that’s why I have a big community; I’m talking about real things and giving the vision that I think people like today about women.”
“I’m Bored Take Off Your Clothes,” Allmost Gallery, 1288 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-Wilshire; Fri.-Sun., Feb. 9-11.
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