Patrick Angus

"The artist Patrick Angus said he didn't have the happiest day of his life until he was on his deathbed, succumbing to aids at thirty-eight in 1992. It was then that he saw the proofs of Strip Show, a book of forty-seven color reproductions of his paintings, and could finally believe that his art would not be completely forgotten. He had worked in obscurity, defeated by early humiliations from galleries that caustically rejected his depictions of sexual loneliness and the "bad" gay culture of hustlers, tricks, and low clubs. Worn down by his failures, Angus gave up hope of exhibiting his paintings, until Robert Patrick wrote an essay about him in Christopher Street. David Hockney bought five of Angus's paintings, and in 1992 three galleries held solo shows, yet without new work the momentum was not sustained. He is included in overviews like Emmanuel Cooper's The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years in the West and James Saslow's exceptional Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. Much credit is due Douglas Blair Turnbaugh for his steadfast dedication to secure Angus's legacy."


"In 1984, in and around the Gaiety Theater and the Hotel St. James, in Times Square, Angus found the humanity and honesty he desired to paint. These scenes had never been painted before and reveal a striking reality few outside large urban areas knew existed.

The painting, Hanky Panky, 1990 reveals to us a world in which gay men set in rapture watching a scene from a film reminiscent of a Hockney painting enact a ritual of manhood caught forever, frozen in time. The dark theater with its glitter ball catch the light just so that scenes are reflected we all recognize. In the lower right a man is watching the man next to him, perhaps jacking off and this man and the next person are almost touching hands — trying to make that contact depicted on screen. On the left side of the painting a guy stands in the shadow, smoking, watching the crowd ? perhaps a hustler, and in the doorway a guy catching the light from behind is peering into the theater trying to ascertain what course of action he will take next.

The scene on screen is in stark contrast to the dark sleaziness of the theater. It is pristine with its warm light and clean cool water. It is that good gay life of L.A. — inviting, yet...closed off by the wall behind the two young men safe in their environment that we the observer can only partake of in our imaginations. Oh, how we would like to be those two guys."


"Patrick Angus was compelled to paint from childhood. Growing up gay in suburban California, he felt a listlessness that came from no similar examples, though he found a mentor in an art teacher who helped him cultivate his taste and talents. Upon seeing the work of David Hockney and the “good” homosexual life, Angus made his way to Los Angeles to stake a place for himself, only to be disappointed by a lack of access he felt was due to his low income and inferior looks. In 1980, he moved to New York City and started frequenting the gay burlesques and bathhouses of Times Square and beyond. He painted canvases of what he viewed as the “bad” gay life – cruising, hustling, darkness – full of shadowy figures sitting in dark porn theaters illuminated by the glow of the projector and the orange tips of their lit cigarettes. Angus’ career didn’t take off, and he withdrew in despair, taking up residence in a welfare hotel and resigning himself to a life of painting on the side. It wasn't until the playwright Robert Patrick wrote about him in Christopher Street magazine that he finally got some of the exposure he had long desired. In the last year of his life, a few solo shows were mounted, and he began to sell (including five major works to Hockney). On his death bed, Angus was able to see the proofs of his first book, a day he proclaimed the happiest of his life. He was 38 years old.

Twenty-three years after Stonewall, gay people still have few honest images of themselves, and most of these occur in our literature. Gay men long to see themselves – in films, plays, television, paintings. They seldom do. Obviously, we must pictures ourselves. These are my pictures. – Patrick Angus. "