Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bow Down to the Ones You Love

A former and favorite teacher of mine, Michael St. John, has a show at Marvelli this month called Revolution Blues. The work refers to all my favorite things: Philip Guston, revolutionary figures, loss, the Black Panthers. And formally speaking, I’m tickled pink: a 1960s graphic sensibility, text, appetizing surfaces.

What I wonder is, is it enough for work to draw on values and visuals I hold dear? If the photograph of Fassbiner in this painting were of someone I did not admire, would I be so attracted to the work? How much of the appeal is right there in front of me, and how much comes from my head, from what I come to the work with?

I’ve sometimes wondered the same about Martin Scorcese’s use of music in his film. I am always happy to hear a Stax hit or even a loud Rolling Stones tune, but does the soundtrack do more than just make me happy. Does it serve a separate work or does it make the work?

As I don’t think anyone reads this blog, this debate will remain mostly in my head. Of course, if there’s anyone out there…

1 comment:

noah said...

hmm Recently I have been pondering similar concerns. These days it is very popular to draw from sub/niche cultural icons as a source of reference.(i.e. metal music, Charles Bronson flicks, vintage porn) The audience is limited to those whose know the subcultures well enough, and surely they will like the work because they are now 'in on it'.

Also, I found your blog by searching "philip guston black panthers."