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freNCH ESCAPISM & LIQUID PAINTING, by scott richard
Image by torbakhopper
the idea of liquid painting came before the idea of applying it to FRENCH ESCAPISM for me.
genre art is something i’ve always — for many reasons i’ll address below — been very critical of and therefore avoided creating any or even participating in the commercial game.
so when i finally decided to make my own genre art that would stand out, i knew i had to fight against many of my own prefixed ideas — i didn’t want to do coffee-table book art.
i’d seen this happen to many artists.
o’keeffe in the 80s with these gigantic books that made her art seem like legit table porn, an amazing colorist that made the women wet and the men confused. and even though so many of her paintings are tiny in real life (seriously, very student art class semester one stuff), the massive books made them ten times larger than life and the photographic-saturation and color-minimalizing reached into all of our hearts. what more can i say? we ate that shit up, not knowing that the publishing house had done the real magic.
and remember nagel, not to diminish the comparisons, but it was the 80s, after all. same shit, different.
and since then, the print industry — when they saw how o’keeffe’s book sold — did whatever they could to make tabletop books of "great" artists (which ironically, also masks the flat-out commercial value of the rising value of the original art in direct ratio proportions to book sales — you can read many of my essays on art forgery and insurance fraud on flickr if you like).
in southern california, we were innundated with these giant books. this was the birth period of the beautiful cookbook cooking series. for the record, historically, it was also a real turning point in the rise of LUXURY eating behavior and tourism patterns. i wrote a series of FOOD poems at this time to mark the global tyranny that would use food and art as fronts for new colonization.
and for the record, these books WERE so beautiful. great pics, the right macros, beckoning. satanic majesty. and i resented their power. as an artist, i resented their ability to use lux colors and spend tons of money making things look so tempting.
every damn post-yuppy household in southern california that had used an interior designer (that’s what their new name was back then, upgraded from the lesser form of decorator, to which we all scoffed…)
and coffee-table books need to be like that.
they need to attract a sitter, a house guest.
they call out to the viewer — "IM ACCESSIBLE!! OPEN ME I’M fkinG HOT!!!"
and these books to me said another thing as well.
they said, YOU MUST BE YOUR OWN SIGNATURE.
and i resented this.
it was blatant commodification of food and art.
and art, to me — although i understand some of its historical context as advertisement, religious control, story-telling slavery narrative, etc. — wasn’t about the church or the grinding of pigment from far away that comes as a metal and must be transformed into color, and ilk of this like, you know the real meat and bones of the ACTUAL story of art.
i was cool with all of that, but to participate in the story of art, you have to tell a story from your own time. you can’t repeat the stories you’ve heard unless you want to be shakespeare. right!?
and while i kind of find some humor in the idea of drag performance where romeo and juliet as a man go through moppish and apesih humor while satirically quoting far blown and overwrought distress calls and mating yowls and howls of poetry, i figure that our time is fascinating.
we have fking microwaves!!!!
and people drive super fast in cars and pretend that speed travel has no affect on their psyche. the INSANITY of our day and age is marvelous.
so i paint cities and people and cars and houses and buildings and flowers and graffiti and i document the things that i’m in love with in our day and age.
and ultimately, i see that as my contribution to art.
my paintings are dark and full of night, even in daylight there is a darkness to my work.
so when i decided to make my own "coffeebook art" concept, that single fingerprint of creation and energy that is startling and irretrievably recognizable to all, i went back to the place i started.
i started with forms and motion and the idea that motion was ever present. — even when our eyes look at imagery. we are the motion. it is our eyes which make art real.
and over the years, of all the flowers i’ve painted — the mighty rose, the sexual cup of cala, the golden power of the california poppy, the violent bird of paradise, the softer camellia, or the untouchable orchid — it was the dahlia which grabbed my attention.
the dahlia is so extraordinary from the viewpoint of an architect.
there is the obvious spiral of its construction, and the mortar is sunshine and light, which is invisible to the eye, but dictates every petal’s relationship to the whole flower.
then there is the idea of "alternate lifestyles", a concept i apply liberally to all flowers. would i want to live here?
is there room for others? does it feel like community?
and many flowers, the soloists as i like to call them, are not communal. they are for living alone inside.
and o’keeffe was HUGE on painting these kinds of flowers.
to me, it’s narcissism and therefore voyeuristic.
the narcissist is overly absorbed with the lush details of the monolith.
the communitarian is overly absorbed with the regionalism of others.
communitarians don’t believe flowers are about human sex or that humans are attracted to flowers specificall because they are sex and trying to illicit pollination from insects.
it isn’t that ll of this isn’t a truth, it’s more that the communitarian is more likely to be drawn toward the non-narcissist flowerings in the art world…
and the dahlia is compartmentalized — very different from the massiveness and openness of voyeurism.
the dahlia is ordered and certain compared to a flopping iris with its flesh-like petals falling all over itself in disarray.
and as we, as humans, travel through space, racing as fast as we can go, we are more like dahlias.
we are compartmentalized. and as we age, we drop off these compartment petals. they fall away from us.
and eventually, we explode, our ability to contain ourselves so diminished that we no longer have petals. or, perhaps, through sudden death or tragedy.
thus, the birth of the exploding rainbow dahlia.
but like all coffee-table book art, it’s just showing off.
so show off your rainbow dahlia.
your petals are falling off already.
and make up your own form of liquid painting.
it could be cinematic and storytelling like FRENCH ESCAPISM or it could be abstract and kaleidoscopic.
it could look like wallpaper samples spinning under disco lights.
answer the call!