Political Satire and Art
No new images this month from the studio, as a lot of weird, wayward progress is slowly being made on my new work. Instead, I’ll leave you with some insight into the thoughts, worries, indecision and desires of where exactly I want my work to head.
It’s pretty shitty times to be an artist. My work has always been centered around a sense of satire, sarcasm, and allegory, and I’ve always felt comfortable being the jester standing on the sidelines making asides and thought it was my responsibility to yell things that should be yelled, but rarely are.
And then the internet arrived. I embraced it, and still do. Then social media. I half-heartedly embraced it, and now can’t tolerate it. Then Trump. It’s all a bit trickier now to know when to yell, as the volume has been raised so high these days.
“The internet does not seem to have a huge impact on the things i know about. But it has a massive impact on the things I don’t know about, because I’m getting no other information. And it’s making me think things based on nothing… or based on one thing, which is the kind of person who likes to have opinions on twitter. Which typically means somebody who is kind of performative, somebody who is probably an ideologue and somebody who might have some elements of mental illness, who sort of need to sort of consistently have feedback from the public to validate that they exist. And this is who we’ve turned the discourse over to. We’ve basically said, ‘You guys get to dictate sort of the collective discourse because you want it the most.’ “Chuck Klosterman
I’ve always embedded weird little personal stories, political satire and social commentary in my paintings. I’ve been envious of punk rock, illustration, comics and cartoons for the ease in which those mediums allow political satire to just be blurted out. The immediacy of flat out jokes and barbs without innuendo was one of the great experiences of writing the Really White Vigilante comics.
Of course, with great ease, comes great burdens. Or something. Just because you can draw a picture a limp, small dicked orange Trumpball doesn’t make you a genius or your work amazing. I always think of these drawings the art world equivalent of a fart joke. Kinda funny, awful for some, worth a chuckle, but you’re not going anywhere with that material. I may or may not have a drawing based off ‘Piss Christ’ featuring a nude Ivanka Trump and nude Donald Trump in compromising positions ala everybody’s favorite fantasy tape that may or may not exist. After all, I’ve been a firm believer in futile and stupid gestures.
But alas, I’m not a comic book artist, nor am I a punk rock god. I’m a painter. It’s the profession that chose me, and for better or worse, here I am. I think true painters have a connection to all the painters before them – they can see influences, appreciate and learn from most of the painters who came before them (Ed. Note – except Roy Lichtenstein. Nobody can learn from Lichtenstein.) I believe painting to be a bit more timeless than the funny pages. Without going so far to defend painting with a Kierkegaardian brush, but painting is a pretty complex visual language that allows humor into it in its own weird little ways. It also is a vehicle to express emotion and empathy, and make others feel that way as well.
One of the hardest things about political satire is making sure you just aren’t preaching to the choir. That what make the low hanging fruit so easy but so worthless. Look at that Jim Carrey picture above. Who cares, right? She’s a bloated piece of shit. His art is a bloated piece of shit. I think it’s always more interesting to find ways to make people think when they’re laughing instead of just chuckling at a fart joke.
So why have I written all of this? Where does all this lead to and what happens next? All of these keep churning in my head. I have tons of ideas entering my head at light speed. It takes a good filter to weed out the bad ones. I do believe painting should be beautiful, even if it’s an incredibly ugly or unsettling subject. There are still Nazis in America. And they’re not viewed as evil incarnate. How do you satirize something that has become satirical itself?I have stories to tell, assholes to burn.
In the last show I had, Bull____ On Parade, I threw together a bunch of elements to create a fun little series dabbling in political satire and a light, humorous take on American politics and the bullshit that fucks up all of our lives. Between the writing, sketching and painting I’m doing in the studio right now, I’ll find a way.