For his first solo exhibition in London, Spanish artist Francesc Ruiz transformed Gasworks
into a bookshop specialising in yaoi comic books.
Gasworks Yaoi is the result of research conducted during Francesc Ruiz's residency at Gasworks in autumn 2010. Inspired by the long-standing gay establishments in Vauxhall, the artist has created a semi-fictional narrative that emphasises the clichés around sexuality and lifestyle in the area.
Originating in Japan, the yaoi genre (also known as 'Boys' Love') focuses on homoerotic male narratives but, unlike male-oriented gay erotica, yaoi comics are usually created as well as consumed by women.
Allegedly produced by female amateur illustrators, the yaoi comics featured in Ruiz's bookshop at Gasworks focus on a group of men whose nightlife revolves around the sprawling bar and club scene in Vauxhall. By adopting the yaoi genre and claiming female authorship, Ruiz distances himself from the stories and characters he depicts, allowing for the imagination to run wild, indulging in stereotypes and idealised situations. Through the comics' humour and distortion of reality, Ruiz explores a specific subculture and its place within the wider fabric of the neighbourhood.
As a comic bookshop for women the gallery space becomes an environment where sexuality, the local context and its social dynamics are fictionalised and packaged into a product for consumption.
Francesc Ruiz will install new work in the toilet of the George and Dragon Pub, covering the walls with issues of Sukia, an erotic Italian comic from late 1970s and early 1980s. Sukia follows the story of a jet-setting vampire and Gary, her gay butler, who travel the world indulging in wild sex parties and committing mysterious crimes.The White Cubicle Toilet Gallery is curated by Pablo León de la Barra.
Francesc Ruiz's recent solo exhibitions include The Paper Trail, CIC, Cairo (2010); Big Boom, Centre d'Art la Panera, Lleida (2009); Bcn Eye Trip, Galeria Estrany de la Mota, Barcelona (2008); La Visita Guiada / The Guided Tour, MNCARS, Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos (2008). Selected group exhibitions include The Last Post. The Last Newspaper, New Museum, New York (2010); The Malady of Writing, MACBA, Barcelona (2010); The Graphic Unconscious. Philagrafika, Temple Gallery, Philadelphia (2010); Sequelism: Episode 3: Possible, Probable or Preferable Futures, Arnolfini, Bristol (2009); and 28th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2009).