“The floodgates opened and things snowballed,” he says. “People understood what I was trying to do.”
Despite his higher profile, he’s stayed as busy as ever. His new show, opening Friday night at Suite Spot, is titled “Ugly Simple Truths.” Bonneau calls it a sequel to his first exhibit, “Beautiful Layered Lies,” from 2011.
The show is set for 6-10 p.m. at Suite Spot, located at 1465 Chattahoochee Ave., Suite 450, Atlanta, GA 30318.
Bonneau says the show is very psychological — about the shadow self and what we do not project to the outer world. It involves themes that are of weight within the gay community. He calls it heavier and darker than any of his previous exhibits.
“It invokes major emotions,” he says, admitting he’s cried a few times looking at it.
He uses 17 models in the new piece, which features 23 works in all.
In his artist statement, Bonneau writes, “‘Ugly Simple Truths’ is designed to be intense by stripping down and exposing my models to their most vulnerable. There is nothing to hide behind as they confront raw emotions and their shadow demons of the past. Their personal stories are laid bare for all to see.
“Through the intricate use of black light photography their ‘Shadow Self’ is exposed and represent a dark underlying world that exists within each and every one of us.”
Truth #2 is “Being in the Closet,” which finds a man naked save for his boxers shorts with Post-it notes all over his chest and torso, such as “Too Skinny,” “Chest Up!” and “Watch Feminine Voice.”
Truth #4 is “Never Fitting,” with a statement that explains, “My demon is growing up different in a small, Southern town … that feeling of not measuring up, of being an outcast, excluded, and tormented for not fitting in. I was too smart, uninterested in athletics or any redneck pursuits (pro wrestling, tractor pulls, etc), and eventually a closeted homosexual. I was called fag and made fun of for how I walked and carried myself.”
Other “truths” include “Infection and Labels of HIV,” “Drug Addiction” and “Am I Good Enough?”
New York on the horizon
Later this year — probably sometime in October — Bonneau will be doing a solo show in New York as a benefit for GeeksOut, which sponsored “Dream Weaver,” and the LGBT Center in Chelsea. In it will be approximately 40 framed pieces from his “Heroes + Villains” series. He calls this a lifetime dream, yet he has no plans to leave Atlanta.
He feels the city is his home and his local models have been an integral part of his work thus far. And he can do a lot here.
“These days you can be a New York presence without living in New York,” he says.
“Ugly Simple Truths” will be used as his fundraiser to make the New York solo exhibit happen.
“It’s all auction style,” he says. “Hopefully everything will sell.”
He expects to start shooting “Heroes + Villains 4,” the final installment in the series, late this year or early next, after what he calls a needed break.