I’ve been doing some Fall cleaning and organizing. I ran across some old paintings that made me laugh and cringe a little. I tried to do some political paintings, which is something that I really hate. I should walk that statement back a little. I hate when a controversial figure is elected to office. It often results in poor art. When political art focuses on a specific person it becomes rooted in time. It is often knee-jerk or at least comes off that way. These paintings exemplify that.
Years later most people don’t even know who are in these portraits. My father-in-law saw these sitting on my workbench and asked who they were. He watches Fox News every night and is very opinionated, but he still didn’t recognize Dick Cheney. I don’t think the likeness is that bad.
I did 4 of these total. The first was George W Bush in Gene Simmon’s KISS makeup. I thought it was a silly thing. There wasn’t much to it really. It really had more to do with how popular he was at the time. When bad news came out about his administration there were never any repercussions. It was like he was a rockstar.
Dick Cheney was my second painting. The main reason I did him was the ducks. Sometimes life plays out in amazing ways. One thing that was always included in reports or articles about Cheney was how he was a duck hunter. I always found it an odd thing to add. I suppose it spoke to how duck hunting seems like an elitist activity. The only people I know that duck hunt are well-off. Shortly after finishing this painting it was accepted into a gallery exhibition and about a week before the exhibition Cheney accidentally shot his friend while duck hunting. I felt that cheapened my commentary but it did result in many chuckles.
The next painting was of Al Gore. This one was the most obvious and perhaps too obvious. Al Gore has gone on to become one of the leaders of the environmental movement but he also lost the presidency to George W Bush. He has spoken about his feelings on the subject and that was what really influenced the painting. I find his experience fascinating. He seemed to have it all only to have it all taken away. He was devastated by that loss but he used that to reinvent himself and make a greater impact on the world than if he had become president.
I tried to put alot of thought into these paintings and the results were interesting. When they were in the exhibition I liked to hear what people said about them. Depending on the viewer’s perspective they saw different things, but ultimately they became what I hate most…knee-jerk pieces that hold no greater truth.