In the classical tradition of the male nude by Gregg Friedberg

Some years ago, Gregg Friedberg was browsing a book of dance photos, came across Annie Leibowitz’ portrait of David Parsons – nude, in mid-prance – and he experienced a true epiphany:  spontaneous conviction that were he the subject of one – just one – such indubitably beautiful, memorable photo, he would feel thoroughly fulfilled.   

The conviction was unsettling, “preposterous” my rational sense of it:  I’m neither a dancer nor had I ever even considered posing nude. I supposed it would pass.

It didn’t. And serendipitously an opportunity to try arose soon thereafter.  Needless to say, I didn’t have beginner’s luck enough to achieve the goal then and there, but so began what’s turned into an enduring project, the ‘superlative’ quest become more properly an artist’s creative process.

Through the years the consensus of comments I’ve received is that I work in the classical tradition of the male nude, remind people of the Old Masters’ works in the genre.  And yes, the poses are my main concern: their formal and emotive qualities – though, of course, my medium is (mostly monochrome) photography, my ‘specialty’ self-portraiture.

My ‘practical’ career has been in computer programming, which can at times give creative satisfaction:  when one succeeds in finding an ‘elegant’ solution to a difficult problem.  But my primary creative outlet is poetry.  Once this photography project was under way, I discovered it was the perfect complement, its means and strategies piquing poetic inspiration, not distracting from it.

And once I had a portfolio of photos that seemed to ‘stand the test of time’ – though never yet that superlative one! – it occurred to me to organize them:  determine a sequence, pair each with a brief text – epigram or short lyric.  Which is to say, such a collection of them is in progress, is what I suppose will be the project’s culmination.

Concerning poetry, Gregg prefers writing poem sequences, treating a matrix of themes from an evolving perspective. Two collections have been published:  The Best Seat Not in the House (Main Street Rag 2010 and Embajadoras Press 2017) and Would You Be Made Whole? (Aldrich Press 2015).  Individual poems of his have appeared in various journals, among them High Chair, U.S.1 Worksheets, Assaracus, and La Presa.

He divides his time between Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and Guanajuato, Mexico, and when in Guanajuato, he gives monthly poetry readings, recordings of some of which can be found under his name at youtube.com.

“The flesh intact has always been a provocation – sooner or later irresistible – to powerful men: priests and tyrants.”
“Is art the forge of hope? Or the refinery of despair?”
“How naïve I was to think, at every moment of my past, that moment was my very present!”

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Michael Nguyen

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