Good Boys

Artist concept: Harita Asumani

These portraits are inspired by men who, at some point, had a vibrant impact on me or attracted me. Some of these men I’ve only met once or twice. During this compressed time, a beautiful exchange of energy and information took place. This chaotic information continued to influence my subconscious long after our last meeting. When their image resurfaced in my mind, I reassembled the memories, adding bright colors where needed. This is why these men appear in my imagination under the label “good guys.”

Perhaps this is how I reinforce a flattering self-image: that I have impeccable taste, always appreciate and attract well-mannered men, and deserve only positive treatment.

This series could go on indefinitely. My memories are full of fleeting images based on real people. Sometimes I run into the person who inspired these images, and we might chat briefly. He probably doesn’t know that in my head, I’ve created his double, capturing only the qualities that make me feel good. I understand that the flesh-and-blood guy standing in front of me is a stranger, but I’m happy to see him. I’m fine with him staying a stranger. Meanwhile, his doppelgänger, with a warm smile and appealing look, pops up in my thoughts whenever I think of him. I know him really well because I made him, along with the universe he inhabits.


A classic gentleman and a soldier in the U.S. Air Force. We met in Plovdiv in 2011, where he was stationed for training. I had just finished school and was seeing myself as a grown woman. I tried to set him up with a friend who liked dark-skinned men, but he made it clear he was interested in me. He invited me to spend his last day in Bulgaria together. I accepted. This awesome guy embodied the vast, beautiful world that was calling me. From our meeting, I learned I was still too young and cautious to dive into the deep end. Yet, a ticklish feeling blossomed within me, knowing that one day when courage replaces my fears and I will answer that call. The next day, he flew off to the USA.


A romantic, a dreamer, and a musician. I first saw him one late afternoon in the summer of 2012 at an iconic bar in Sozopol. He was with his then-girlfriend. What truly impressed me was his solo performance nearly a year later on the stage of a three-day jazz festival. At that moment, I understood the meaning of the word “groupie” and knew I would become one. We communicated through music for quite some time. To this day, I associate him with D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar,” Akua Naru’s “Poetry: How Does It Feel,” and a few lines from a song he wrote for me.


Young, sweet, and well-mannered. We met in 2018 during a commercial shoot. In such places the time is limited and focused on efficiency, so people quickly shorten the distance to be mutually beneficial. Despite this, he showed interest even after the project ended. A true professional. I invited him to dinner, feeling mature enough not to suffer from excessive scruples. However, he insisted on meeting when he got paid. I willingly agreed to follow his rules. We never did get to that dinner.


A flirt with a sharp tongue and playful eyes. He wasn’t conventionally handsome, but he had enough charm for two. I don’t remember where we first met, but I vividly recall the passionate feeling he stirred in me whenever he measured me with his gaze or spoke to me. In 2019-2020, I worked in a gallery, and he would drop by occasionally, pretending to be interested in the art. Once,  he left the gallery after we had shared a delightful chat, without even glancing at the current exhibition.

A Passionate activist

A passionate activist. We’ve known each other since 2019. Since then, we’ve worked together on several exhibitions supporting the LGBT community. Knowing that women are not his target group somehow frees me in our communication. I find him attractive and can express it without creating a field of dependency and expectations. Although it’s not just about appearance, my feeling is closest to aesthetic pleasure. It’s this feeling, standing in patient silence, waiting for the sun to kiss the horizon. The sunset is a foreseeable event that will happen with or without me, but the ability to enjoy it makes me part of the whole.

Curatorial text: Simeon Vasilev

In feminist theory, the “male gaze” refers to depicting women in visual arts and literature from a male perspective, presenting women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the heterosexual male viewer. The male gaze on the female body is instinctive and compelling: the man watches, and the woman is watched. Harita Asumani reverses these roles and questions the toxic dynamics that forms of extreme feminism presuppose. The female artist observes and paints from her memories the men who have left an imprint on her life. These works are based on real individuals, portraying men who have romantically, enchantingly, and erotically impacted the artist.

In “Good Boys,” Harita creates doubles of these men, even if she has only exchanged a word with them. She captures their most appealing qualities, painting these strangers and their fictional worlds through a pink prism. The curator also becomes a subject, appearing as one of the portraits, creating a reflective interplay of perspectives. These men are observed, painted, and involved in the process, viewed through the exhibition’s thematic lens.

The project includes a series of male portraits and short videos in which the artist tells the stories behind each image.


Good boys Video stories