Anti? Art

Filed under: Art Reviews,Reviews — doktorjohn October 19, 2002 @ 11:45 pm

Exhibition of Paintings by Skot Olsen
FUSE GALLERY, 93 Second Avenue, NYC
September 7 through October 19, 2002

The Fuse Gallery in Manhattan’s East Village once again treats denizens of New York’s cutting-edge art scene to a stunning and highly thought-provoking exhibit through October 19, 2002. Opening reception for paintings by Skot Olsen was held at on Saturday September 7. Olsen graduated north Jersey’s Joe Kubert School. His bizarre acrylic paintings are busy, gaudy and cluttered, but still retain influence of the Kubert School, which is famous for cartooning and comic books.

Of the 20 or so paintings on display, the majority told grotesque stories with an irreverent flavor, satirizing low-down human foolishness, both institutional and individual. Thus, there were weirdly distorted caricatures of hideously ugly priests, an overtly demented insomniac, some warty-nosed religious fanatics, and a decaying, wrinkled belle of the Old South. These were in the form of highly elaborate, complex stories and were accompanied by explanatory notes adjacent to each painting. Many were informative, even educational, historical narratives.

Seven other works were surreal, bio-sexual inventions, vaguely reminiscent of genitals and internal organs: solitary fantasy figures, as intensely detailed as color illustrations of autopsy specimens.

The artwork is so subversive, so transgressive, that we were expecting to see maybe a shaven-headed, multiple-tattooed anarchist, but were surprised to find Skot a clean-cut, baby-faced and modest young man whose only outward manifestations of rebellion were a pair of earlobe studs. Having graduated in 1991 from art school, the 32 year-old Olsen was able to “quit the day job” in 1995 and is pursued by a growing number of collectors for his works which bring in from $3000 to $8000 a piece. Not too much, one might add, for these highly accomplished, expertly-executed paintings which combine complex and engaging scenarios with wit, wisdom, iconoclasm and spectacular visual interest.
Link yourself, if you’re interested, to Skot Olsen’s website

Montage Art By Winston Smith

Filed under: Art Reviews — doktorjohn October 17, 2002 @ 2:11 am

Untouched by Human Hands

New Montage Art By Winston Smith at Fuse Gallery 93 2nd Avenue, NYC October 26 – December 7, 2002

The Fuse Gallery in Manhattan’s East Village’s is fast distinguishing itself as the premier location for exhibiting the works of nationally-famous artists in the pop-punk, cutting-edge category, the stuff that appeals to the metropolitan rock-music crowd. The opening reception for renowned montage artist Winston Smith was held October 26 in the gallery which, like the Lit Lounge to which it is connected, is just a few steps below street level at 93 2nd Avenue. Both outfits—the lounge and the gallery—are run by gracious and friendly hosts, Michael McGrane and Max Brennan.

Winston Smith himself seemed to be hiding in a corner, both surrounded with and protected by admirers, while a mostly youthful crowd of metropolitan art-world “beautiful people” milled about studying the sometimes puzzling, sometimes easily comprehensible artworks.
Using a razor-point knife and glue, Smith cuts out and pastes together images from vintage magazines that he has pored over, sometimes for months, piecing together bitterly satirical narrative montages, which he terms “graphic wisecracks.”

Born and raised in a church-going, but politically- and artistically-aware Oklahoma family, Smith studied art in the 60s in Florence, Italy where he was temporarily taken by the lifestyle and where he continued to live until the mid-70s. Returning to the states he became associated with Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. His design for the cover of their album “In God We Trust”, a crucifix constructed of dollar bills, mounted with a golden Christ and topped with a bar-code price label, was on display along with other artworks.
Also seen were surrealistic, iconoclastic pieces including covers and feature article illustrations for Playboy, National Lampoon and New Yorker magazine, and many non-commercial, sarcastic satirical collages.

The use of predominantly vintage periodicals as sources for these cut-out figures creates a demented, cynical, bizarre version of Norman Rockwell’s world where jolly 1950’s housewives and father-knows-best-types freely associate with Satan, nude models, religious icons and weapons of war. A willowy Vargas model sensuously embraces a torpedo. The effect is not so much retro as it is to impart a feeling of iconic timelessness.

See greed, war and religion get skewered on the razor-knife of Winston Smith.