Untitled (Double Hazard)
Black Ink on Kraft
11″ x 17″-ish
A test print from the run that ultimately produced this guy.
On a recent art excursion to Washington, D.C. we came upon this Gustav Klimt painting at the National Gallery of Art. Ensconced in the recently refurbished East Wing, Baby (Cradle) of 1917/1918, beckoned from the wall in a tussle of haphazard exuberance. I thought I was over Klimt, but this one totally hit me right between the eyes.
Say what you will of the dorm-room-poster kitsch or cliché romanticism of works like The Kiss, but lately I’ve enjoyed Klimt—the intricate patterns, the sublime colors, the gold, the drama—it’s all hitting the spot right about now. Seeing Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II at MoMA last year might have softened me up a bit. Beauty is underrated. Looking at a picture and enjoying it purely for the aesthetics is something I’m comfortable with at this very moment.
Baby (Cradle) offers a lot to look at. The complex marriage of dense pigment and ornament in the foreground piled onto the languid washes of color in the background brings the subject squarely into focus. Well, sort of. First you must navigate the swirling tatters of colors and marks that command your attention and toss your eyes aimlessly about.
A white piece of cloth offers a welcome respite and cuts a trail right up through the center of the mountain of material. But it’s not really a mountain at all and the top is not the top. You’re looking back into space and at the vanishing point there’s a baby’s head and hand peeking out from beneath the dizzying pattern work.
In that moment, time stands still. It’s as if, for a second, matter translates to sound and the chaotic din radiating from below is instantly sucked out of the room. All that’s left is peace, quiet and tranquility.
Compare the crisp, pale representation of the subject’s face to the haphazard array of elements draped amid the composition. The swaths of fabric look to have been painted at a feverish pace and smashed flat into the canvas while the face appears to have been created with a delicate touch that raises the baby up and away from the surface.
Baby (Cradle) is a study in contrasts and—like all great art—offers something new every time you look. It was painted in Klimt’s last year of life and appears light and open unlike much of his earlier work. It’s tempting to think that he was on his way to another breakthrough as evidenced by Portrait Of Amalie Zuckerkandl painted (and left unfinished) around the same time in 1917.
Deceptively simple, minimal, synthetic pop. Catchy melodies with dark undertones overlaid with dueling male/female vox. Distant, detached, haunting, enchanting, exotic, inviting, seductive – all of these things.
One thing that that keeps us coming back is the duality of moods that permeates nearly every track. Sweet and sour, dark and light, sleek and leaden sounds all add to the complexity and depth of the songs. They’re intoxicating, addictive, irresistible. It’s kind of like switching between sweet and savory treats – the contrasting flavors simply feed your appetite for more.
Fans of early electronic pop will find a lot to like. If you dig classics like Kraftwerk and Chris & Cosey or contemporaries like Solvent – or perhaps more accessible reference points like very early Depeche Mode, OMD, or Gary Numan – then this is your sweet spot.
I’m looking forward to a new year of new work. The ideas keep pouring out and I can’t wait to get back out to the workshop and begin again. While I wait out the frosty winter months and fight off cabin fever by sketching (and by a few brisk hikes), the down time will offer some time to reflect, catalog and post 2016 work, clean out the studio and perhaps tweak the process a bit. All is not lost.
In the meantime, here’s a peek at our last holiday greeting. This was meant to be a three-color print but ballooned out to five or six color variations once we got into it. Some things don’t turn out the way you expect and it was too much fun trying out some different color combinations on the fly.
Here’s to fresh starts, new chapters, leaves turned and the glorious blank white page that awaits.
The Cherokee Heights Arts Festival is this Saturday, November 12! Over the last few weeks I decided to create a few hats since I hadn’t made any. It was a fun and relaxing way to use up all the bits and scraps left over from my massive glove production. Its always fun to see how long the colors will last, creating different blocks of color and texture. I had a bunch of neutrals left over, so these are a bit more sedate than the gloves, but also very appropriate for men or women.