While listening to the dismal election news coming forth from my studio radio last week , I was busy at work on a drawing. The drawing was vague, more of an amusement than any specific concept. But as the electoral numbers came in, my panic rose, and the magnitude of what was at stake, all that I hold dear being seriously imperiled , the heretofore ambiguous drawing took a life of its own.
As the Bully rose in the number, my fears turned to those most vulnerable: women, POC , religious minorities, LGBTQ folk, but most specifically the environment. If we were to being living in this profit-first-profit-only environment then kiss aside any slim progress made during the last few years. Good bye Miami, hello hellacious droughts and rampant fires. Any sane regulation to protect our mute charges steam-rolled by corporate greed and the rapacious machine of unregulated capitalism. All of those poor enslaved creatures in factory farms across the nation will be subject to the same horrors found in the darkest most perverse Chinese market : animals skinned alive, brutally bludgeoned, callously scalded alive. A hell scene out of the imagination of Bosch, but the “sinners” are the innocent and the helpless.
My heart breaks at the potential exploitation of the earth and her children, all for some mad grasp at some lost imagined American “greatness”. So taking the advice of artists wiser than myself I channeled my nervousness and my anxiety into making this past week; this diptych one of the results. I’m going to need to be hyper vigilant the next four years (gods forbid eight), and I expect my work will reflect the strange times we now live. My colors for this drawing reflect my emotions, ugly, garish and harsh. By employing color wheel opposites I tried to embody the split between Right and Left, the green and red expressing the tensions between the natural order and Man’s voluptuous greed. I have never employed such ugly coloring before and I doubt I will again. It has been too unsettling even working with them.
So I am participating in an upcoming group show which is an homage to DADA and the centennial celebration of its founding. The work thus far submitted looks marvelous , capturing the anarchist aesthetic of the movement.
Each artists self selects a work or artist who they wish to honor by crafting a new work in homage. It looks and sounds like great fun.
My selection is of course theatrical and perhaps a tad neo-medieval (does that even make sense?). My inspiration was Pablo Picasso’s cumbersome cardboard costume designs for the Ballets Russes’ production of “Parade”. His fabulous costumes were so ungainly the dancers were unable to dance, let alone move with any grace. Hence the DADA aspect, art/non-art; a ballet without movement…how is that a ballet?
Yet it was.
So I hoped to fashion my own cardboard contraption, equally cumbersome. A walking Mystery Play, marionette arms gesturing and inviting audiences to a performance of Jean-Paul Sartre’s incredible “No Exit” (if there was ever a more loathsome description of Second Empire interiors, I would be hard pressed to identify it). Sartre’s play is chilling and rip-roaring at the same time and I hoped to imbue my marionette-mask-costume with those attributes.
Its rather large, at least 50 inches in every direction, more when the arms start gesticulating. I haven’t yet been able to both wear it and have measurements taken- I will at the opening. The opening which is November 17th will be at a fantastic gallery space here in LA; thus far every event I have seen there has delighted me. I’m really eager and pleased to participate in this.
The following is Picasso’s incredible work, I’ve always loved his theatre work, encouraging me as a boy to play and experiment with the most pedestrian material: cardboard, tin cans, house paint, duct tape- especially duct tape! If nothing else, my homage is heartfelt.
It would be lovely if local folks could attend the opening and toast the greatness of DADA!