In the aftermath of a relationship breakdown, some people resort to sessions of therapy to work the trauma out of their systems.

But when Alan Grout’s recent relationship broke down, the Newtown artist undertook his own kind of therapy. He picked up his sketching colours and went to work creating a new exhibition he has titled Change.

The five piece work took Grout, 30, a month to complete. He says once it was over, he was amazed at how cathartic the experience had been.

When everything began falling apart, I thought I had to get these done and out of my system, the WA native said of the exhibition which opens at The Newtown Hotel on Thursday 15 September.

With some of these images, I had to get them over with -“ and once they were done, they were done. There was no more messing around with them. There was a lot of getting rid of things and getting ready to start something new in life.

The images are male nude sketches featuring a number of former lovers. Grout’s method of work is to photograph his subject, then project that photo onto paper and sketch in the colour and detail.

Grout, who has taken time out from his regular job as a barman at the Newtown to complete the exhibition, says he surrounds himself with the images when he works, sometimes working on four pieces at the same time.

I dive in head first when I am working, he said. I am bound to get overwhelmed and frustrated with one, and rather than lose the flow, I move onto to another.

Grout won The Oxford Hotel’s Mardi Gras art exhibition  in 2003. He hopes his new exhibition, which will move to the Columbian Hotel after its Newtown showing, helps redefine the image of gay male erotic artwork.

This is not homoerotic, he said. The biggest part of the work is the mood that goes into it. Nude is nude, but I really wanted to take the hard edge off it.

The way I focus on men is to show a different side of gay art to the harshness of Tom of Finland. I am trying to take the porn out of male art work, but keep it beautiful and masculine.

Alan Grout’s Change exhibition commences at The Newtown Hotel on Thursday, September 15. Prices start at $1200. Phone 9517 1728 for details.

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