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.

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