Monday, February 9, 2009

Great moments in art history: Black Metal paintings

Here we see curators hanging one of these priceless pieces of art at the Louvre.


As much as my writings for this blog have been hailed by critics as being both groundbreaking AND insightful, I know that all the praise could easily dissipate as a result of one bad post. My internet fame could collapse like a house of cards that gets knocked over by the seismic activity created by Shane Embury walking nearby. Why bring this up? Because I'm sometimes afraid of posting something that the entire M.I. readership has already seen elsewhere. This, by the way, is very possible, since I'm rather disconnected from most metal activities online. This is a particular concern of mine when it comes to anything relating to black metal. Look, I know and understand that black metal and making fun of it is old news. You see, whereas in other households the phrase "like taking candy from a baby" is often used, in my house we say "like making fun of black metal."

Having said this, I simply felt I had to share this amazing artwork with all of you, even if some have already seen it. Under each painting I will give my critique.



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A challenging piece for the viewer to take in, to say the least. The terracotta tones (perhaps an homage to postmodernist architect Michael Graves?) ground the figures, while their scale clue us into the artists take on the subject matter. Not since Andy Warhol's erotic films have homosexual characters been depicted in such a manner.

Not content to merely use traditional symmetry as a way of creating balance, the artist has opted for the asymmetry common in modern art, as well as modern architecture. The quality of the facial features shows us that we are looking at true outsider art, perhaps the work of a retarded person, a monkey, or a homeless man...or Danny Spitz and his googly eye. Reminiscent of Mies Van Der Rohe's early floorplans, the characters slide past each other, much like walls did in his Barcelona Pavillion. Somewhere between abstraction and respresentational painting, this piece not only challenges, but also shatters pre-existing notions about art and artistic depiction. Had this guy been around when Demolition Hammer was putting out their first album, he totally would have gotten the comission.


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Much like Franz Kline's seemingly brute black and white canvasses, this piece speaks not only to our humanity, but also to our brutality. The duality of the black and white brushstrokes seem to hint at the hidden characteristics of the music it speaks of, while connecting with the viewer at a visceral level. The laughable proportions, lack of chin and asymmetric visage may seem erroneous, but are in reality a statement about man's inhumanity to man....or perhaps the artist needs glasses. One is also left to wonder "why are his nostrils so damn small?" The artists is taking a gutsy approach (to say the least) in specializing in portraiture, when he clearly has severe problems sizing up even the simplest of human features, but is that not the same for most black metal bands? They can't play their instruments, and yet they go on playing. Go figure.

This piece also has a slight connection to Demolition Hammer. How you ask? Does the angle of the face look familiar? Just look at the image below, which clearly served as inspiration.







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Exaggerated proportions and interesting brush technique speak to varying visual references, primarily the later work of Andrew Wyeth, as well as more banal visuals...such as the runny quality of a drunken hobo's diarrhea. The wispy quality of the brushstrokes is clearly influenced by Wyeth's work, and his depiction of prairie grass in his haunting masterpiece "Christina's World." Perhaps serving as a statment about the childlike nature of black metal's musical complexity, this portrait features the nose of a baby, thus layering meaning within the painting.






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Drawing upon visual cues from different areas of design and artistic expression, this piece is perhaps the artist's strongest statement. Not content merely making visual references to the work of assorted modern masters, the artist goes one step beyond and references the unlikely world of automotive design. Clearly influenced by the work of designer Chris Bangle (the rear of the BMW 5 series in particular) the subject's features seem to converge onto a single point...as though he has just eaten a very sour lemon. The extremely short length of the subject's chain is also worth mentioning, as it looks more like a choker from the Delia's catalog circa 1996.


Although much of Chris Bangle's work for BMW has been criticized, his impact on automotive design is undeniable...much like Possessed's album Seven Churches.


Another possible use of allegory by the artist is the repetition of the upside down cross. What is he trying to tell us? Perhaps it's a simple reference to the recurring pitchfork shape that is clearly seen in Grant Wood's "American Gothic."

Note the pitchfork shape, which is repeated both in the overall's pocket, as well as upside down in the top window of the house.

24 comments:

  1. Who cares about other metal posts on the internets? if it has been done, fuck them. M.I. is by far the fathog of the blogs. 5 pentagram stars for this tasty art-fart post.

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  2. haha my buddy actually has a painting of a black metal dude that our friend did for an art class in his room...he's not remotely into metal at all, but he loves that painting...

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  3. this post definitely needs the "why" tag.

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  4. I like the third one, the one with the baby nose. That artist was able to mix Asian culture (look at the baby's eyes and the shiny black hair), with emo culture (look at the myspace haircut), and black metal. The shiny hair could also work as a shampoo advertisement campaign to reach the most extreme part of society, people who are difficult to convince with commercials design for hip people.

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  5. "...but are in reality a statement about man's inhumanity to man....or perhaps the artist needs glasses" LOLzzz!

    I agree with jared, the "why" tag is needed!

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  6. childish, amateuristic, no talent, waste of paint/canvas, so studpid i don't know where to begin. again we really need W.W.III and start over with some pretty tight birthcontrol; no more stupid people wasting natural resources..aahhh who the fuck wants to paint some g*y *ss f*ck anyway; worse; who wants that painting on there wall for something other than target practice?? please....die..please!! i beg you die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  7. misfits, you are a damn good art critic. how did i miss the asian influence? i suck.

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  8. When I was a freshman in high school my final project for art class was a painting of Cliff Burton rocking out and banging his head done in this real abstract style.

    However awesome you're imagining that, make it about 1000% worse and you have my actual painting. I think I still have it. Unlike these yokels, I wouldn't be dumb enough to put it on the interweb.

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  9. 1. bangle quit BMW last week

    2. The terracotta tones (perhaps an homage to postmodernist architect Michael Graves?)

    A++++++++++++++++ for any references to terracotta, salmon and teal palettes! michael beirut would be proud.

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  10. Sour lemon or bitter beer face, you decide.
    Perhaps the paintings would command a little more respect if they were on black velvet?

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  11. Hahaha these pieces of art are all fucking brilliant...I really wonder what makes no friends loser black metal kids think they are artists. Are these pictures subsconcious cries for help maybe? Or just for attention? Whatever, I would be ashamed to present such masterpieces to the public. By the way, can anybody remember the times when black metal really was evil and dangerous instead of just being ridiculous? I know it was only 1993, but it seems so long ago now after the flood of BM-bullshit like these pics. One of the funniest posts in a while!

    For those that want more, the Gorgoroth website´s fan "art" section is a goldmine for similar rubbish...shudder!!

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  12. metal inquisition is pussies!!!
    black metal iz rulz!!! hail dark evil and terracotta!!!

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  13. Shouldn't it be 'terrorcotta'?

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  14. i don't worry about how to spell such non-evil colors.

    wow, you're right Chris Bangle left BMW! he's leaving automotive design altogether. nuts.

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  15. a whole bunch of the big auto design guys left pretty recently- guy from mazda is think is the most recent, who did the 3 and 6. not sure what's going on but seems to be some shakeup going on right now (this is from a guy at work who was in transportation design at [that school we both know about]).

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  16. I like BM but I still found this hilarious. It looks like most of these pictures were painted in a pitch black cave in Northern Norway during the 24hr Winter darkness.

    Yes Jewdriver, I do remember the times when BM was dangerous and nobody had heard of it. Great days, but Myspace has ruined it for us all!!! Now, where did I put my trading list? I need to record that Goatpenis demo for someone.

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  17. alex, i'm glad you remember. i've tried, unsuccesfully, to get that point across before. black metal wasn't always a joke. sadly, the last time i talked about this in general terms, about how metal and black metal had more of a mystery about them back in the day...in ended up making fun of kind diamond's mustache and lost a reader for life. oh well.

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  18. can anybody remember the times when black metal really was evil and dangerous instead of just being ridiculous?

    Yeah, I remember that millisecond too. Though, in retrospect, it's always been ridiculous. It's just that those were different times ("dark ages" information-wise) and we were kids. It's the same token by which King Diamond seemed scary as well. But now we're gainfully-employed home- and car-owning family men, and the whole shtick just seems pathetic.

    Lucho, I'll never look at the 5-series booty the same way again. The resemblance is uncanny and hilarious. Amazing. Props for noticing it.

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  19. Lucho, making fun of King Diamond's moustache is a serious business and should be taken very seriously as such. You lost a reader over it? Oh well, fuck him/her, they obviously don't know how to take fun seriously.

    But seriously, seriousness was all the rage back in 1992 where BM was concerned. I remember it well, I have mentioned before in other comments about how it felt like we were all part of something few knew about and in this case, something dangerous and dynamic.

    I'm not going to go over the same old ground, but I will say I really dislike a lot of the new BM, for commercialising what was and should have been the noncommercial. Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth I'm pointing the finger at you.

    These paintings are a fucking hideous byproduct of the current circus that is the Black Metal scene. They should be mocked mercilessly.

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  20. The fact that so many people paint pictures of their favourite black metal hero proves that Gaahl is not the only homo in this scene.

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  21. One of the best MI posts, ever!
    "the characters slide past each other, much like walls did in his Barcelona Pavillion" << oh shit, I'll never be the same walking through the mentioned pavillion x'D

    Would third's nose be a reminiscence of Botero? (http://www.csudh.edu/dearhabermas/botero02.jpg)

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  22. You are hurting my haemorrhoids, goddamit! Series 5 BMW rear end's resemblance to that sour face is uncanny. God bless you!

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  23. Love this art and thanks for sharing such great moment history .

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