08 June 2013

Backpage (dog-eared)

Found on an old storage disc. The painting is one I was working on about 20 years ago; then recently out of undergrad and having just moved to Chicago. Unfinished, with hours' worth of additional modeling and detailing to be done. Unfinished because: One corner where the support stretchers were knocked askew from being mishandled during a move, water damage on another corner from where a roof leaked during heavy thunderstorms, and a streak of yellowing along one portion from where I must've mixed in too much cobalt drier while applying a wash of varnish. And also just generally cooling on the idea of the thing. Neither here nor there, really; since I think it was intended as little more than a technical exercise in the first place.

Very much in a stereotypical '80s "pomo" style.*  A bit of a sarcastic one, at that. I recall part of the idea behind it had to do with the fact that I'd always intensely hated Jean-Jacques David's The Oath of the Horatii. So I decided to address that distaste by means of quoting from the thing and doing some research about David and the painting in question. No surprise, I suppose, that I would end up in an art history program a couple years later.

I recall a number of other somewhat joke-y I was working on thereabouts. Another one that I started: Working from a old b&w photo in a book that depicted a Zyklon-B canister, painting it in the style of Warhol's soup-can series. Didn't get very far with that one. Around that time I made a trip to the Czech Republic to visit a friend. Over the course of a week did a fair amount of trekking about the country -- numerous excursions into Prague, one to the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora, and a couple of other towns. Most every place has some sort of WWII monument related to the years of the Nazi occupation -- memorials to slain nationals and martyrs of the Czech resistance movement. At one point we travelled through the outskirts of the town of Kolín briefly stopping there to have a quick lunch. Upon returning to Chicago, I resumed work on a number of paintings, one of which was the Zyklon-B picture. Upon looking at the photograph in the book again, I noticed something about it. The photo was large enough that I could make out a fair amount of the print on the canister's label, including the canister's place of manufacture, which was listed as Kolín. Never got much further with that painting. Probably just as well, seeing how it was a stupid idea in the first place; and in very poor taste, as well.

*  I believe that at the time I had also harbored a perverse fascination with the art of authoritarian regimes. And by "perverse," I mean by the sort of howling kitsch that that sort of "Official" state-mandated aesthetic unvaryingly engenders.

1 comment:

Greyhoos said...

And if there's a point to any of this, I suppose it'd be that painting sarcastically isn't something that I'd recommend. Probably the only way you could pull it off is if you're Martin Kippenberger. But then again, if you're Martin Kippenberger, then chances are good that you've been dead for about 16 years now.

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