Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was born in Le Havre and moved to Paris, where he was briefly enrolled at the Académie Julian. Leaving the school in 1918, he began to follow his own path in painting and, after a brief sojourn in wine dealing (the family business), spent the rest of his artistic life seeking an authentic art based on the work of prisoners, the insane, the naïve, and other marginal outsiders. The style he developed, and which ultimately became its own school, is now called Art Brut.
In the 1970s, The Joker, Batman's greatest nemesis, had his own nine-issue comic book series, in which he faced off against a variety of both superheroes and supervillains. Because of the restrictive "comic books code," "good" ultimately had to triumph over "evil" in every storyline. This led to some creative writing strategies -- that is, how to make one of the most morally unhinged villains in superhero lore appear to do something "good" every third issue.
Start with Hieronymus Bosch, lighten with illustrations from an early volume of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, sprinkle in a touch of Robert Hawkins and season with George Condo for a modern flavor, and, voila! You’ve got Paul Pretzer, a twenty-nine-year-old Estonian painter from Dresden. The combination of anthropomorphic, magically whimsical hobgoblins and oblique narratives has been a winning recipe for generations. Pretzer’s renditions are loosely stylized enough to be painterly; rendered tightly enough on board to be termed illustrative fantasy proto-realism (as opposed to photo-realism), and just creepy enough not to be too cutesy. Most visual story telling of this sort tends to be dark and angst-ridden, but whether or not he intended it, his paintings are too good-natured to be genuinely unsettling, and that may actually contribute to their popular appeal.
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage payments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchased in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose D.I.Y. and wonder who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning...but why would I want to do a thing like that?
From my window on the 69th floor of the Temperance Building, I can see the monument to Rosa Luxemburg that Chancellor Nirenberg erected in Zapruder Park after President Manson resigned and The Bund took control of the city. The first thing they did was to tell everyone that we no longer had to worry about The Flu; the virus had mutated and was now known as The Plague. Infection was spread through physical contact, most often rape (Katya and I had a good laugh at that), and the resulting zombies it produced were now wandering the city. Mostly they come at night. Mostly. Posters of women in sunglasses are plastered on walls. They warn what’s left of the panicked population that one side effect of the zombification is dilation of the pupils, until the whole eye turns black. Zombies look for the whites of the eyes. Sunglasses, the posters tell us, are a fashion-must this season.
There is a koan that states, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Thinking about Buddha as something outside of oneself is creating preconceived ideas and is, hence, antithetical to one's awakening. Looking at the work of Lola Montes Schnabel is a little like that. It is hard not to think of the giant reputation of Julian Schnabel, her father, looming over her work. Even if you tried, it might be kind of like not trying to think about elephants, and, well -- you get the point. Schnabel has created a suite of paintings, stylistically not so much indebted to the Neo-Expressionist movement as developing from it, that are worth considering.
It is a rare gift to create a feeling of relief, of spiritual up-lift simply by painting a vast sky above a sliver of a horizon. The new paintings by Jane Wilson at DC Moore Gallery are a perfect example of this effect. And despite the low percentage of earthbound elements in most of Ms. Wilson’s work, her art has a very distinct ability of grounding the viewer. It is as if she offers an open invitation to proceed safely upward, to leave your fears, your day-to-day responsibilities and move to a place where you can float and experience anything from the electric energy of a pending storm, to the serenity of harmless cluster of white clouds without letting go completely all ties and comforts.
Mira Schor is a painter and writer living in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is the author of A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life (Duke University Press) and the blog A Year of Positive Thinking. She is an associate teaching professor in MFA Fine Arts at Parsons The New School for Design. She is represented by CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles and Marvelli Gallery in New York City where she will have a one-person exhibition in March 2012.
James Lord once wrote of Proust that "he realized, if ever anybody did, how the recapture of time gone by can create an infinite future." This pursuit of memory, both vivid and buried, has been depicted by painters quite often in the form of the sea. Jackson Pollock's "Full Fathom Five" (1947), with its skeins of watery paint covering the detritus of the studio (keys, coins, cigarettes, and so on) like buried ocean treasure, stands as one of the prime examples of such work. Howard Hodgkin's recent paintings extend this "search of memory" further.
Scott Grodesky was born in Warren, Ohio, in 1968. He lives and works in Long Island City, Queens, New York, and teaches painting at SUNY Albany. Grodesky’s most well-known body of work depicts life in his neighborhood, including his wife and children and the surrounding buildings and landscape. He employs reverse perspective as a tool for investigating new relationships with forms and narratives in painting.
Recent solo exhibitions have included Sunday L.E.S., New York (2009); Galleria Glance, Turin, Italy (2008); Baumgartner Gallery, New York (2000, 2007); Daniel Weinberg, Los Angeles, (2004); LFL Gallery, New York (2003).