L A R R Y K A I S E R
ART'S MISSION must be so valiant that its pursuit requires Art's practitioners be as splendid in FEARLESSNESS as in articulation.
Indeed, posterity charges every artist to ATTACK despots, demigods. and tycoons with art's two most powerful weapons--RIDICULE and EXPLICITNESS.
Note to gallery owners, collectors and other fine art dealers:
Historically, political paintings have been largely inept and boring and trade upon sheer ugliness. My paintings therefor are NOT conventional political paintings. That is, they are NOT a member of a genre which, with paltry few exceptions, has FAILED.
My political paintings refuse to be mere protest, and they champion fine art qualities that political art has never before expressed. That should be a selling point, and it should interest any art dealer who aspires to offer art that is bold enough of purpose and explicitness to blow the thousand-dollar bowlers off tycoon collectors everywhere.
Consider: To date, NONE of the vast array of art, classified as political art, has passed the means test of superstar-quality impact.
Why? Because while acing all the questions in regard to how awful things are and getting all the easy questions right in regard to choosing social and governmental issues against which to protest, political art has gotten all the difficult questions wrong ...all the questions about quality and style and metaphor and draftsmanship and poetic symbolism and philosophical irony and content subtlety and classical and contemporary artistic concerns, and worse. Political art has totally failed at effective tactics and strategy.
The political artist up until now has shown a lot of rag-tag passion but have displayed little professional discipline. They have not understood whatsoever the enemy’s weakness ...or how to strike at it...or how to look appealing and smart while doing it...or how to truly speak to the host population.
The great lesson political painters need to learn about the their real power and the most effective tactical employment of that power may best be learned from the world’s great newspaper editorial cartoonists--attack the idea not the person; ridicule the idea; turn the idea into laughing-stock; avoid the universal; depict actual faces; name names; be explicit. Despots know that they cannot survive brightly lit exposure of the ridiculous and unnatural nature of their regime's underlying philosophy.
In 2011, masked members of Mukhabarat, Syria’s security forces, attacked the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat. They broke both his hands and dumped him by the side of the road, then published a notice that said, “This is just a warning”. His art was guilty of ridiculing an idea held by authority.
In 2006, the Iranian government jailed the political cartoonist, Mana Neyestani, in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, killed nineteen people associated with the artist, stoned his home, burned his newspaper’s office and exiled his family. His art was guilty of ridiculing an idea held by authority.
Both the above political artists, and dozens more, mediocre as most of them were, but with similar stories of brutal and desperate regime obstruction of their art, are examples not of the weakness of political art nor its ineffectiveness, but rather, importantly, they are clear witness to the opposite--the ability of political art, when done right or even not quite right, to instill fear and a sense of panic in the establishment.
While I favor art that attacks evil, I am equally interested in exploring how the instruments, contrivances, and attitudes of the editorial cartoonist may be useful to fine art. Just how funny should fine art be? How powerful can irony be when made blatant? What is the place of text in fine art? What happens when art that the public understands and likes presents itself to the palaces of the established art world? What will it tell us about the attributes of fine art when we begin to see what is required in a piece of political art to separate it from the perceived artless vulgarities of political cartoons? Just how creative can the artist be in a painting that is expected to execute a mission? When is content inherent in art and when is content an impediment to art?
Representing my paintings would be smart, adventurous, and avante guarde, because you would be helping bring into art's mainstream the bold, brazen, humorous, unique, outrageous, and lovable wiles of newspaper political cartoonists, together with all the questions and controversies attending such a heinous proposition.
A Despot Ridiculed Is Despot No More
3 ft. 10 in. x 6 ft. 10 in. Oil on canvas. "Abraham Contemplating Sacrifice Future" is a political painting that questions the wisdom of a nation. Is it not flawed ethics and twisted reason that uses the tycoon's greed for oil to justify psychological and social manipulation to convince America's youth to climb onto the national sacrificial altar of military service.
24" x 36" acrylic on canvas. The painting suggests that we Americans, especially National Rifle Association members, brainwash our own children into beliefs about the virtues and comforts of hate and violence in ways that Madrasas schools in the Muslim world may not have mastered yet.
33" x 33" acrylic on canvas depicting Morgan Freeman as God during a boring moment some 8000 years ago. The painting is concerned with this notion that we humans are special, perhaps special enough to warrant our own reality show. What happens when Jerry Springer goes to heaven? Will God turn the whole thing over to Jerry?
56" x 50" Acrylic on Linen depicting the irresistible sales pitch modern Capitalists lay on third-world countries. The painting stars Jamie Foxx as Adam, Tyra Banks as Eve and Steve Jobs as the modern western capitalist exposed as the real Biblical serpent.
44" x 32" Oil on canvas charging viewers to examine the policies and behaviors which the American public and the leaders it elects presumes will impress world opinion.
4 ft. wide x 6 ft. tall Acrylic on Canvas. The painting accuses America (its government and its national will) of avoiding the real war in Vietnam. America was so afraid (cowardly) of China that it refused to mount a ground offensive against the real enemy--North Vietnam. The lesson we should have known long before the war is that you cannot defeat an enemy by kicking its dog.
34 x 34 acrylic on canvas. It suggests that the American Military-Industrial Complex has seduced America's Miss Liberty. At question is whether or not Miss Liberty has voluntarily forgone her traditional duties in order to enjoy the attention of an old, wealthy man. Witness the boob-job, the provocative clothing and the heavy makeup. How complicit is the care and feeding of Liberty in cause of the condition in which we find ourselves?
24" x 34" acrylic, ink, marker on canvas depicting America's Uncle Sam trying to disengage from a monumental entanglement with oil--the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow--while nearby the big fish frolics in apparent mockery.
36" x 50" acrylic and oil on canvas making use of the time when the swimming rabbit tried to get in Jimmy Carter's boat during a little fishing respite down home in Georgia? Remember the President's valiant effort to beat the poor thing away with an aluminum oar? And Ambassador Andrew Young trying to get the PLO officially recognized by American (Carter) foreign policy? The two events actually happened at about the same and are the butt of this paintings ridicule.
44" x 33" Acrylic on Canvas, think about it: oil is a renewable energy--as long as we keep having children and teaching them that the highest service they can do for their country is donate their 19-year-old heart to the pumping of oil out of some hellhole 5,000 miles away. As George says, It's inventitive.
36" x 49" framed watercolor and acrylic on rag paper ridiculing President Ronald Reagan's (Ray-Gun) wrongheaded stoppage of funding for the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
31" x 44" oil, ink, marker on canvas, framed by the artist, ridicules America's underlying emotional attachment to guns, as evidenced by the near worship and Bubba-sainthood bestowed on Charlton Heston by members of the National Rifle Association.
44" x 29.5" Acrylic on canvas provoking the American Republican Party to reexamine its aversion to one of its own, Senator Luger, who has devoted his life to cleaning up the party's messes and providing its only connection to profound and rational ideas.
4 ft x 5 ft Acrylic and collage on canvas
48" x 24" acrylic on paper mounted on board Depicts corporate power wiping out a state park and pristine nature to build a condo project. Walden I, or just plain Walden or, Life in the Woods) is an American book written in 1854 by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. Walden II or Walden Two is a Utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, first published in 1948. Walden III is a painting by the artist Larry Kaiser first offered to the public in 2013.
acrylic, sculpted Styrofoam on canvas
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