BOOK REVIEW: Heat Wave: The Art of Gennadiy Koufay

By Annamarya Scaccia (, 2005)

Title: Heat Wave: The Art of Gennadiy Koufay
Author: Gennadiy Koufay
Publisher: SQP
Publish Date: 2002/2004
Pages: 48

The art of pin-up is difficult to master. It is more than just a naked body. Pin-up is a fantasy, a seductive dance. It is inviting, erotic, stimulating and most over all mysterious. In artist Gennadiy Koufay’s book Heat Wave: The Art of Gennadiy Koufay, the female pin-up form is explored yet somehow lost in the folds of risqué poses, and becomes an invitation to smut rather than sophisticated eroticism.

Born on the beautiful coast of the Black Sea in Russia, Koufay began nurturing his art at a young age. After graduating from the Art Institute of Estonia, Koufay found himself in the center of a blossoming arts culture. After working on many different projects for various theaters in Russia and opening up his own clothing boutique, Koufay moved to New York, then Key West, Florida, where he now resides, and began working independently as a freelance artist. This is where Koufay started doing what he always desired to do with art: pin-up.

Most of the works found in Heat Wave are reminiscent of photographs found in Playboy or Penthouse. For example, “Village Girl 3” features a well-endowed blonde in beige cowboy boots and daisy dukes dropped down to her ankle with her breasts out and her shirt lifted. Sitting on a tin can, she has a pleasurable smile plastered on her face as she pulls a white cloth up, running against her vagina and clit. Hardly the definition of pin-up, the beauty of “Village Girl 3”, with the elegant shades and realistic detailing, is lost underneath a veil of smut. Another piece that does not fulfill the pin-up concept is “Drum Major (2003)”. Dressed as a drummer in a marching band, the woman looks rather stupefied, with a finger to her lip and a marching rod between her legs. She is bending wide with thigh-high stiletto boots on and a red jacket open around her breasts. Unfortunately, not only does this portrait lack any grace of pin-up, it is also lacks any artistic integrity, with the cartoon-like facial features and disproportion body.

Although the majority of the works featured in Heat Wave fall short of interesting, he does have a few that are close to the idea of pin-up. First there is his work titled “Hot (2003)”. Featuring a sweaty Marilyn Monroe, this image is suggestive rather than obvious and the seduction lies in the imagination rather than the image presented. Clothed in a white tank and undies, the outfit clings to her body in a sea of sweat with an ice cube tray by her right foot and a fan near her left leg. The art itself is unbelievable with shading that evenly reflects a light source and intricate detailing of body parts that are close to life. This piece is true pin-up. There are also a few black and whites that go beyond pin-up and smut. His works such as “Girl #2 (2002)”, “Girl #1 (2002)”, and “Girl #9” reflect an interest in the nude female body as art itself rather than the objectification of what it can do. The shadowing is done with delicate consideration and the poses each girl finds themselves in are, well, normal.

Koufay is a very talented artist. Even if Heat Wave is just smutty fantasy on paper, his use of shadow and light, attention to detail and ability to master form accurately is evident in the book. Unfortunately, his inability to capture this female as a seductive being rather than a sexual animal masks his talent as an artists. This book is worthy of a flip through but definitely leave it on the shelves.


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