Mark Varley is a photographer and bondage artist whose work is refreshingly pure in its erotic presentation. His nudes are frequently presented on stark or simple backgrounds drawing the viewer’s attention to the figure and the form.
Often this starkness is exaggerated through contrast and lighting, isolating the figure, the better to see it’s detail and grace. The women Varley photographs appear natural and at ease- not overly sexualized but also not ashamed.
This body of work is contrasted by the fetish work that Varley also produces in which the women seem much more sexually charged and engaged. Perhaps it is the nature of fetish that the one cannot help but allude to the act. Perhaps the reality, upon closer inspection, is that the female models are no less comfortable and no less at ease, but through the addition of ropes or chains or cuffs or masks, they become sexualized and suggestive in a way that the unadorned nudes are not. Or perhaps it is the obvious addition of the ‘other’ that changes the dynamic. Similar to seeing images of a couple, seeing a woman bound in rope is suggestive of the missing presence of the one who tied her, their lingering mark and also control.
There are many, many photographs to sift through and appreciate on Varley’s sites. He also keeps a photo blog where viewers can comment on the daily photo. Looking through his work you see the diversity of ideas that he pursues and captures. Yet, when it comes to the nudes, bound or free, one thing shines through consistently- and that is the simple beauty and variety of the nude and erotic female form.
Article by Kayla