Neil Gilks

Butch face

This exhibition arises from the need to express something at a given moment, and the face is the means of that expression.

"I found an immediate natural connection with the subject, incredibly deeper than drawing women."

Many times the face is explicit, but other times it has little to do with drawing someone, it only has its root in the need to express something at that given moment and the face is the vehicle of that expression.

In the exhibition “Butch Face”, Neil Gilks creates a series of intriguing portraits of very masculine males, drawing inspiration from fashion illustration aesthetics. According to the artist, he may have created these portraits to compensate for his own femininity and insecurities. In the past, Gilks has faced criticism for not including women in his artwork, despite having designed women’s fashion and built his career around their beauty. However, his artistic career took a clear turn when he discovered some of his earliest sketches of male faces on post-it notes while scrolling through his Instagram feed. This is where his love for drawing male faces began. Responding to his friends’ suggestions for greater diversity in his work, Neil compared his art to when he started his own business designing men’s clothing. He felt a natural and immediate connection to his subject matter that was deeper than what he had felt drawing women. As his art developed, it increasingly reflected his experiences as a gay man, leading him to challenge societal archetypes and question his own limitations.