David Unthank is a multidisciplinary artist creating work that toys with fantasy and surrealism as he finds prismatic ways to explore pleasure, sexuality, escapism, and hope. Whether through the use of painting, sculpting, or animating, he conjures aesthetics right out of a dream to create safe sanctuaries here in reality for people to shamelessly love.
His primary goal is to take a candy-colored confidence and curiosity and merge that with sexuality, love, and the beauty of human connection. He has always been interested in everything fantasy-related and has spent the vast majority of his life exploring his identity as a gay man. Dismantling systemic shame around pleasure and celebrating the beauty of boundless love is at the core of his artwork, as well as parodying the seriousness of western society. Utilizing overt imagery and childlike colors creates a dynamic that is lighthearted yet salacious, sparking dialogue around stereo-typically “taboo” topics that can be more comforting and less serious. As the world seems more and more grim, David shifts his practice towards optimism, indulgence, and tenderness.
Currently in his third year of studies at the University of Cincinnati’s school of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning, he plans on finishing his Fine Arts degree in 2023. He has always lived in Cincinnati and has taken quite a liking to hot pink hair. He has created artwork his entire life and picked up painting over the last few years, exploring and falling in love with every medium since entering DAAP. He also frequently collaborates around the city of Cincinnati on various creative projects like painting the walls of Condado Tacos and teaching kindergarten students art at the Wyoming Fine Arts Center.
Land Beyond Stardust
30″ x 30″
Acrylic, glitter, and resin on canvas
Over the last couple of years, my sexuality and gender expression has blossomed into becoming my own religion. Land Beyond Stardust (a part of a larger triptych under the same name) serves as a relic from a fantastical, transcendent society, inspired by classical religious iconography. I reference religious figures and reclaim repressive religious power, while visualizing sanctuaries for both the physical and spiritual manifestation of sexuality free of binary.
The vast orgy scene acts as a portal into something our society can become. We are constantly evolving, and our human experience shifts based on desire. Through exploring pleasure, communicating openly, loving deeply, dreaming, and reenchanting ourselves to the world and to our bodies we can break out of the rigid binaries set in place by fear and religious control over western society.
Acrylic, Glitter, Resin, Sprinkles on White Earthenware
14” x 12” x 12”
Lick Me is an ode to my younger self entering the world of sexuality and coming into my own as a gay man. The sculpture references the magical foods from Alice in Wonderland that would change Alice’s physicality, and I’m reinterpreting that metamorphosis as someone discovering the beauty of sexuality and pleasure. I want the piece to feel childlike and playful, yet overtly dirty and sensual (hence the merging of a banana split and a penis).
The sculpture is a part of a larger series, which is yet to have a final title, and is also meant to be humorous, kind of parodying the seriousness of modern-day society and our western views of sex. I want to abolish stigmas and inspire people to shamelessly love, fuck, and explore the power of their own bodies in a lighthearted and fun-loving way.
Acrylic on Panel
24” x 30”
Cosmic Love is a painting that celebrates gay tenderness and the elemental power that sparks from queer relationships. The romance, the craziness, the passion-the highs of loving someone. I wanted the piece to feel surreal and out of this world, almost like a Disney-movie-esque romance, something written in the stars. A safe place created between two beings. This otherworldly scene taking a stance against so much of the hate in the world right now. From family members, to strangers in public, to political figures-queer relationships are constantly belittled and demeaned.
The gay community also has a reputation for being all sexual with no substance, and while that is a valid way of connecting, I wanted this to also feel tender and sacred. I wanted it to depict what a lot of what hetero relationships seek to create. I want this painting to speak to everyone and communicate a universal message of finding and creating love, and I hope the overall energy transcends boundaries of gender and sexual orientation. Relationships are never perfect, and ours isn’t, but cherishing someone is beautiful and I think that everyone needs a little more tenderness and kindness right now.