Hugh Steers received a positive HIV diagnosis in 1987, ultimately succumbing to AIDS-related complication in 1995 at the age of 32. During his short, yet prolific career as a painter, the artist created raw, figurative paintings and works on paper that reflected the realities—the fear, alienation, isolation, and hunger for companionship—of life under the specter of a devastating disease. Although Steers's subjects are often sick and vulnerable, they are still imbued with a defiant eroticism that challenges the ravages of AIDS. In Straps (1993), the artist captures a man changing the dressing on a thigh lesion, a common symptom of the advancing virus. Limned in the soft light of the bathroom, his elegantly bowed and muscled form is suffused with an affirmative physicality that undercuts his illness.
Private collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Schröder, Barbara and Karen Kelly, eds. Hugh Steers: The Complete Paintings, 1983-1994. New York: Visual AIDS, 2015, p. 234.