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.
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.
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.
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.
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."