Friday, September 5, 2008

Sit N Spin

"Love Hurts" - detail

"Oh Brad..."

"Love Hurts" - Oil on panel

Not only the best coffee in town

but Octane is currently showing better paintings than you are going to see in most galleries.

"POW: Death of Chivalry" - Oil on panel - 2002

POW. The show 'Love Hurts - Recycled Art" by adept painter Michael Thrush packs such a visual punch it threatens to distract all of the college and indie kids from their Ibooks and espresso.

"Lang" - Oil on Panel - 2005

Done completely in oil, I haven't seen the craft of painting executed this perfectly in quite a while. The imagery drawn and shaded seamlessly, the lines so sharp, the works began to read more as paper collage, literal magazine and comic book cutouts pasted onto board, rather than oil painting.

"Speed Racer: Sit 'n Spin" - Oil on Panel

And I am not usually one to like text on paintings but Thrush incorporates ad slogans to great effect. While a few of the paintings in the show seemed to suffer from a lack of focus, "Sit 'n Spin" unifies the cartoon pop imagery, slap stick text, and abstract shapes of colorful movement just right. This painting brings to mind NYC painter Kristen Baker.

And as far as coffee shops go, Octane has got the biggest balls in town. These meticulously painted ladies no doubt derive from some hot 'n sweaty internet porn ads, each portrait hung above the other like a strip of photobooth portraits. I couldn't help but noticed it was only men choosing the seats directly under ladies.

"Great Taste" - Oil on Panel

Thrush writes about his work: "I see contemporary pop culture subversively affecting our belief structures. In many ways, I feel programmed by the media conditioning my attitude and views. I believe the influence of the media contributes to an individual’s social development. My appropriation of pop iconography focuses on this aspect of social programming. There is a need to ‘read between the lines’ of what an image means and says to understand any socially coded message. In my work, I reinterpret images out of their context as a means to gain authority of the pop image and redirect what their intent will be. Then I choreograph specific imagery into a social commentary."

"Great Taste" - detail

Thrush seeks to retranslate " the language of symbols, signs, images, and text to read as a multi-faceted allegory providing alternative meanings through the framework of free association. "

"Menu" - Oil on Panel

In looking at the work I couldn't help but think Thrush must also enjoy all of these psychologically manipulative pop images as much as he is suspicious of them, to spend so much time layering and rendering them, and often using the same visual hooks

"Menu" - Detail

such as a crotch shot to pull the viewer's attention towards the painting much like the original image grabbed the viewers attention towards the advertisement.

The show is up through September 30th 2008 with a reception on September 12th 7-10pm at Octane. Go check out the show - it's so worth the burden of having to drink some good coffee while you peruse.


eggtooth said...

inspiring paintings and inspiring writing.
thanks for posting this.
and thanks for posting the name Michael Thrush.
(somehow far more intriguing than another Thrush i know of...)
i enjoy yr perspective on the pieces as much as the artist's own writing

Jimmy Squats said...

Damn where's this guy been?

eggtooth said...

you can read where he's been on his website.

ive come back to this post some hours after my last post and decided that the paintings don't DO anything."originality can be found in the approach" thrush writes,saying all the major themes and dialogs have been discussed...he references "the framework of free association" this points to releasing responsibility to the viewer,claiming the art has empowered itself to each individuals raw existence and experience,it presumes to say it has included it.this is a given in ANY experience. it is a circular statement and tries to observe that as an end in itself,rather than doing what it knows it must DO-since and because it declares it,which IS interesting in itself..that awareness is a responsibilty if yr gonna acknowledge it)),it chooses to do what it actually observes, and perhaps in doing so, indirectly proposes to advance upon in some way.AND DOESNT.
i say there is an escape,there is a way to individuate.....this way is usually received and missed,because it appears simply as not art,as mundane, as a highly personal insignificant thing. too close to the individual.and therefor lacking criteria that makes it art.or not perceived as art. or perceived as not very well crafted art,which these obviously are well crafted.
art that exists like this,even with this in mind,has chosen to rely on what it cannot escape (as its escape)...and STILL be nothing but really good looking paintings. which is fine.

Jonathan said...

Eggtooth - thanks for your thoughts on this! I can't help but think this is an example of an incredibly gifted painter, who enjoys working with pop imagery, but feels pressure from the conceptually-driven art world to justify his work by debunking through writing the very thing he is painting.

Thrush states he wants to “gain authority” over pop imagery, but I do not see him pulling back the curtain on advertiser’s strategy of mind control. Instead he is remixing (in the John Otte sense) Pop art, pop advertising, comics, and sex appeal. This in itself is interesting, that an artist would choose to duplicate the over abundance of pop imagery in our culture instead of choosing to paint something from life or the imagination.

Brings to mind painter Hooper Turner(

I think Thrush gets closer with the statement that his work serves as a “multi-faceted allegory providing alternative meanings” although the work is more of a manipulation of recognizable imagery and without these references the work would lose its tongue-n-cheek wit.

eggtooth said...

I don't think he was feeling pressure to validate. It comes across to me like he's one hundred percent. on his own.
I considered the goal in a much bigger context,tho.I really sense he felt a goal was accomplished.(weird comparison:like Oliver Stone did with NBKillers?)
My feeling is that there is a symptom to this day and age that consumes really any art. blokes like richter and warhol done did it. Traditional ways of experiencing any manner of media,call it advertising or fine art,are included and have long been blurred together. this is a forgone conclusion, a part of the language.
Really,i find it appropriate to think this way about his work because of the spirit of his words, as well as the paintings. I wouldn't apply this thought to art seen at something like the yellow daisy festival. He seems to be seeking with art to say something relevant.
This is why i say he failed from the getgo.
seems art cant be art to be art anymore.kinda like how we hear the system is dead,i guess. i suppose it applies to coffee shops as well! I'm curious one point i found an idea of situationism inspiring.but, I dont think ANY theory or art history are relevant anymore,either. it's felt. It's almost common sense! It's everybody's. it's segued into Life and Now...and in ways i blame the internet,reality this reality that, You,my spacetube, are famous....(pardon, ONCE AGAIN...i digress into loose textual bowel movements)

im so excited that those are done with oils,tho. wow,man! they do look another way to just look at em'!

eggtooth said...

then of course there's:

his abraham obama is pretty funny!

Jonathan said...

- ET

I think it is important to differentiate between the art and the artist statement. Each serves a purpose but the success of the art does not rely on the accuracy of the statement as much as it relies on the experience of the viewer. These paintings are interesting, visually appealing, worthy of conversation – regardless of whether the viewer and the artist agree on what these paintings achieve.

troylloyd said...

very nicely written Jonathan!
i enjoy the enthused sense of engagement which clearly comes thru in yr writing -- a capacity to deliver yr felt awestruckness
& transfer that awestruckness to the reader inna living authentic voice -- a treat to read.

sadly, i'm writing this on the internet, which is simply the art of letter-writing updated electronically & distributed freely amongst a worldwide audience.

is the buzzword "social networking" sickening or inspiring?

anyways, i dig the paintings as i'm down w/ sillybooks 'n oppy pop --

i think that Thrush's retranslations of
" the language of symbols, signs, images, and text to read as a multi-faceted allegory providing alternative meanings through the framework of free association. "
is crucial in understanding where he's coming from, b/c indeed he does offer a sly commentary on our contemporary cultural apparatus & i think the paintings over-the-top subtle poignancy is an achievement.

it makes me want to drive an hour to go to Octane & getta cuppa Cafe Americano & see the oils shimmering myself!

salut! to the ballsiness of Octane!

& another note:
i really like the overlay collage technique, it's an effective device & stimulating for the right-minded viewer.

Jeff Koons has used this technique to the razors edge, in works such as:
Olive Oyl
-- which if one picks up the October 2004 edition of Artforum, a special POP AFTER POP issue, one will find an insightful deconstruction of that particular painting.

a few more Koons:





& who could argue w/ Koons? he's been dominant in the Artworld & is a rich-ass motherfucker beyond belief!

wide smiles & happy hugs,

eggtooth said...

thasss some good social networking letter typing there,mr. lowercase...and oh,thanks for the Liminal article you reposted as a response on yr blog. i'd like to read more of your thoughts on this...sounded like peppy upswinging grandeurish words of the trickster to me...(heh)
heres some more social networking for you while im at it:

put some gas in that SAAB thing of yrs and come on down outta them stikks ol stiggystiggs,we'll go to octane and argue about these arguable worthy paintings.
....oh screw it.lets do it. write here. write now.(if i may JB)

There's nothing sly about the commentary..there was a time when it was done it was sharp,but now...what would be the thing to do relative to NOW,that this type of "sly commentary" did when it was first suggested ..this type of spirit thinks in that way,right?. (what would marcel duchamp do... today? not another effing urinal,for sure.) what is represented in these really great looking paintings is part of a language that is a given,something that is subject to being nothing more than safe and really without slyness at all.with or without the words that accompany them.

but again, i am capable of just looking at them and saying ,yes they are technically "sly" and yes they look like they look really really great.

i'd like to thank Octane and Jonathan for the opportunity to discuss this. I'd like to thank al gore for inventing the internet,i'd also like to thank Jerry Garcia for dying,and Banana Republic for the wardrobe, Paul Mitchell for the hair styling,McDonalds for the man breasts, and God would like to thank me for teaching him all those self-agrandizing techniques.

eggtooth said...

sit n spin,troy.

troylloyd said...

no words

see this:

« " opinioni " by Marzia Dalfini »

eggtooth said...

aaah. evasive wit. dismissive simple closure,huh?
(im very comfortable with the fact that only you and i understand the depth of yr hypocriscy.)

you dont like these paintings. and you know it.spare me all this sunshine supportive "sickening" social networking writing.

show some self confidence and vitality, maaaan. yr soooo punk rock.

troylloyd said...

are you kiddin' me?

i'm not ashamed to express an overt consumerist desire of poppish fetishizication & freely admit that if M. Thrush offered Deconstructed Donald Duck wallpaper à la Murakami & only available for purchase at one Target store in New York City w/ no option for shipping, i'd fuckin' drive there to get summa that junk, even tho i ain't got no house or apartment!

after viewing Michael Thrush's website , i'm even more impress'd, talk about high-caliber -- his shits like a two-ton atomic bomb!

- - - - - - - - - - -

troylloyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eggtooth said...

Well, since you've done already proved to me yr willingness to drive to New York for, prehtty much no reason, i don't doubt you,(so,is it cold in Buffalo?)

I've decided that i'm done writing About It.will write different from now on i promise just gonna have to do it. Myself. so..with that said, the concept of criticart is doesn't work.the concept is lost,even without my anger and inconsistent writing.
makes me too hateful being backed up with this awareness, i have to just do's not like what i am aware of is so grand anyways,it's common sense...the will to do it is what is,what will be.i think my writing has been the long windbag(!) pussyfoot phase of acceptance of what must be done.i finally see the beginning of the path. (and the vinyl/digital plotter at work).and my body.(and paint i guess.

(i cant resist)Michael Thrush's paintings are pretty.they're neat,he works hard and skillfully (and in a traditional anti-anti slash socio commentary way, "witty") but not for us, far as ART goes.they're dead.are we dead? i say no. if the mothermaryconcept squeezed out twenty stillborn jesuses (only ten feet tall)thats what they'd look like. and you'd worship the little rotten critters.
yr acting like a nerve ending without a soul. go read yr unbearable lightness quote again,please.

the funny thing is..i just sold a painting. im such a ho.

michaelthrush said...

Hello Eggtooth, Jimmy Squats, Jonathan, Trolloyd, and others. This is Michael Thrush. I appreciate the thoughts and consideration that all of you have contributed about my work, but more importantly the dialog of art and the thought that goes behind it. If I may apologize, my artist statement had to be generalized and shortened to cover the variety of directions and approaches I took in each work. But some of my words are vague and I would enjoy responding to some of the commentary that has been written.

I see painting as a visual form of communication. It can be very focused or mentally flexible, depending on how you create the work.

It is true I take a post modern stand point in the way I approach in my creative process. At my website, I believe I quote King Solomon with the bible verse, "There is nothing new under the sun," this is a statement shared by post modernists because society has reached a point where the modernist search for universal understanding has become more of a generalization. There are too many ways of saying the same thing, but personality does provide an added element. All the major themes are taken, words/ images/ symbols have been created to represent the same basic intent. There is freedom in accepting this, because then a person is allowed to see the gray areas behind signifiers and one is not reinventing the wheel, but they are expressing one's own genuine perspective.

One belief that has been expressed about Modernism is that originality adheres to reinventing stylization as a form of being original. Mainly, because photography stole the importance of realism and the quest for depicting essence. Hence, the big bang of modernism expanding into impressionism, expressionism, pointalism, fauvism, cubism, symbolism, abstract expressionism, minimalism, op, pop, etc... all of these searched for meaning in style and gave truth in how form was deconstructed. It embraced the idea of the objective mindset and the grandiose Universal ideal. Then came post-modernism, where switch to the perspective of the individual refered to the search for a shared subjectivity. There is less assumption here.

I enjoy post-modernism because it allows an artist to be more expansive where different ethnic/racial/spiritual sub-cultural subcultures are given validity, the individual's interpretation/opinion is seen as just as valid as the accepted group ideology, sexual identity is explored without persicution, different mediums of expression are embrace (i.e.- digital, installation, etc.)

The impetus for recycling pre-existing imagery is really for the sincere love of the aesthetic and disbain behind the commercial intent. The way I see it is... corporations wouldn't have dropped a pretty penny unless the image didn't provide a desired emotional response of fear, safety, pleasure, lust, jeoulousy, egotistical superiority, etc. to buying their product. It's a billion dollar game of leading our emotions to a decision. Psychological studies have shown that we make decisions based on emotions and then rationalized them to provide validity ot ourselves. Unfortunately, most consumers are not aware of the visual language that takes place. This is my general interest, and my intent is to show a level of obsurdity through juxtaposition & unpredictability, so that people are aware that images are empty signifiers or ambiguous signifiers that gain meaning from Context and Relationships... very much in the same way a chamelion operates.

For example, "You look smurfy today... I can hardly take my eyes off of you." Or "Why don't you go smurf yourself, and put your smurf where the sun doesn't shine." Of course, this is a simplification the empty signifier leading to a positive and a negative response, where the derivative of "smurf" can be used as an adjective, verb, and noun. That same is true with images whether they are seen in a commercial format, a gallery, or on the street.... Our response changes.

So too does our response & reaction change based on the context of stylization we choose to convey from the message. We respond to realism in one way as closer to our interpretation to reality, and we may relate to comic book imagery more from a fantasy perspective where idealism is more embrace than practical thinking. From my perspective, images and their stylization work as a filtering process of how we have learned to relate to these images.

For instance, my painting Love Hurts is a combination of Lichtenstein (comic) and La Chapelle (photo) where the two different stylizations. The painting is about domestic violence where I am questioning why a woman would stay in an abussive relationship. The comic image of a crying woman says."I just don't understand, he said that he loved me." Then the image blurs out into the more realistic image of a woman wearing with a broken set of sunglasses. If you are observant enough, you will see the woman has been bitch slapped and beaten. There is nothing arbitary in my choice for having a comic image with a realist image because I am addressing two perspective simulataneously: factual reality (she's beaten) and the idealist optimism (she wants to believe he loves her).

Most people don't realize that my work is more of an equation of symbols, following algebric/logic systems where the viewer must deduce the meaning based on how the images relate. Hence, I used both social commentary and personal experience where they both follow an allegorical structure where both my hidden subjective meaning and social intent follow the same line of thought. I want people to struggle in this Subjective Completion process so that they learn to question the commercial images they see on a regular basis. Some times, I use a free association in the painting process when I am structuring the imagery till the painting reveals the hidden dialog in my subconscious. I like doing that because the images tends to have a life of its own.

True, images are subjective and I always enjoy when people to interpret their own meaning. The work is intended to be expansive, like the tailend of a keyhole composition essay. I show, lead, and expand on a theme. However, the specific choice of images can only have so many semiotic variable meanings, and the visual compositions are structured in a way to lead you down a specific dialog or theme. My sense of originality in the creative process and voice is in "HOW" the images relate.

Again I am being general, it's easier explaining specific works.

Hope this clarifies what my intent is behind the work. I appreciate all your comments guys. I'd would love to see your art and hear your own approach to making art. I'd rather you called me, instead of typing... It's so boring. We can get some coffee and talk Art. Michael Thrush 404-754-8192

michaelthrush said...

Hello again. I would like to thank Eggtooth for calling me, and look forward to meeting you in person at Eyedrum on Sept. 20 for the Wrestler painting by Jonathan Bouknight. It's always nice to meet thoughtful artist that can communicate art theory on an articulate level.

I have re-read my explanation of my work and am fascinated in how words like symbols can be misconstrued. I am not a transcending writer, but I do my best to try to be understandable. This again reiterates the limit of representation of words and symbols, and made me think about what Jonathan spoke about in terms of 'dead' art.

I am always curious why people use this coined 'art speak' phrase. Some of you have brought up an interesting point that I find worthy of consideration. I feel that there are so many connotations to what 'the dead of art' can mean, that it becomes a bit ambiguous where it's intention is lost or misinterpreted based on differencies of ideology. I am uncertain to the context of what was meant, so I'll discuss my understanding and explain my relationship to the phrase.

The term to "death of art" has a long history. Enrico Pedrini and Nietzsche used the term 'art is dead' when he was refering to the stagnate progress of artists not reaching their avante garde goals. Nietzsche said, "Art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest." ‘He thought God was dead too, but church goers think otherwise. The Dadaists proclaimed, "Art is Dead!" with their hatred of galleries and museums. Where they saw art as merely a commercially driven product for profit. Duchamp dismissed classical painting as being a route exercize in futility where the message and originality was lost in the craft. The 'Death of Painting' is often refered to in light of Walter Benjamin's theories on how art must keep up with the times and technological development. I personally think oil is just so outdated and impractical, but damn it's beautiful and versatile, nothings like it. Warhol stated 'art is dead', with the mass production, globalization of ideas, and the now-broad definition of art. Jean Baudrillard proclaimed the conspiracy of art and considered contemporary art completely worthless. He found religion and became an artist, what a saviour.

Usually, people state art is dead when it doesn't fulfill their ideology of what it should be. Sometimes people just don't fully understand the art and write it off as being similar to this artist or that artist without delving into the complexity of the artist's action. Mainly, there is not a sense of originality, intellectual growth, or where idea s or styles are rejurgetated again and again for it's own sake. Often times styles fall out of favor because their intellectual intent is not longer relevant, the style has developed to the point of exhaustion, or its aesthetic impact loses it's punch. This notion of saying something is dead often baffles me. It's like saying Muhammad Ali is dead, saying just doesn't make it so. The persona of Ali is an Icon that mesmerized the world with his shameless promotion and hype that he backed up. Watch! Ali will die next week. And people will say, Ali is dead.... that's okay we got what we needed from him. What's next.

In all actuality, art has never been alive. Art exists in the relm of faith of ideas. Ideas that we live with day in and day out. Some work to our service, some don't. Visual Art is only a representation of something felt, thought, or seen. In today's standards, the relationship to how art can be ALIVE, is based on whether art provokes a fresh, new perspective and maintains its validity through time.

In the simplest terms I can muster, artists breathe life into the medium where the work transcends its physical make-up/ action and becomes more than just paint, pixels, clay, sound, words, etc... where something is experienced of value.

Whether something new or fresh is actually experienced depends specifically on the viewer. Whether you are experiencing something for the first time or something that has similarities, or something that is a base reproduction. Someone seeing a Picasso for the first time may say the art is alive, but a seasoned art historian may say this work is dead and dated. So what's the difference? And why does art criticism take this route?

Art criticism has metamorphisized into something very similar to our consumer culture... The Cult of the New. We are always searching for newness... Hell, it's printed on every box of Cereal and pack of Toilet paper that once something has been digested or consumed that the Thing no longer maintains its value. I ate the cereal and it was new and yummy then... and now I am wiping the shit (art) off my ass with some nice, soft, fluffy toilet paper (theory). Excuse my vulgar analogy, but it's accurate. They are correct in cases when it comes to the obsolete as it pertains to usefulness. No one is running out to the store buying up floppy disks because it no longer is a valid means of storing information. Art is a funny thing... is it a product, or is it an experience, or is it a cultural artifact that tells us our history of where we have been.

Many people don't know that the writer Kurt Vonnegut also paints. I heard an interesting interview where he discussed his enjoyment of painting. The interviewer questioned why Kurt painted and made a reference to how painting is dead. Vonnegut responded, I don't think about that when I paint. I am more concerned about whether I am enjoying myself and getting something out of the experience. I am original every time I try something new, whether someone else has done it or done it better. You don't have to be the first at doing something, that stiffels the creative process. It's about trying new things for you personally. From this interview, Kurt Vonnegut really took the act of painting to its bare essentials of personal growth, and didn't have the same hang-ups that historians have about the culture of the new.

To get back to the discussion on the 'Death of Painting', I see this sense of 'death' to be in direct relationship to the observer of the art..... We all have this authority to experience art. If it doesn't strike our fancy, it could be a dead experience, but it doesn't mean the art is dead for everyone. Long story short, art enthusiasts, art historians, curators, and art directors like to feel their ideologies are paramount and that others' opinions are irrelegant to their opinion. We all know what Dirty Harry thinks of opinions boys and girls. "Opinions are like assholes, everybodies got one". Cynically speaking of course, Art Critics have something to gain from the death of art and ideas. Whether it's a boosted ego that they believe they know more or they profit off of negative news. By tearing holes, they showcase their own brand of brilliance showing where culture, societal view, intellectual pursuits, and aesthetics change and how art applies. Too bad they can't just kill all the artists, so art would be truly dead. Unfortunately, they'd be out of a job. : )

troylloyd said...

"I am original every time I try something new, whether someone else has done it or done it better. You don't have to be the first at doing something, that stiffels the creative process. It's about trying new things for you personally."

excellent quote.

thanx for yr indepthness of reply Michael, you raise many interesting threads of investigation on the way thru yr explanatory process -- "how words like symbols can be misconstrued" & the linguistic turn of each according to each according to each according to each -- i value a gathering of multiple subjectivities as it aids greatly in my own attempted-understandings of the world around me, art, for me, begins w/ my body : it is my only true place of reference, the mind is not separate from body & sometimes the pre-dating of gesture more readily affects our hard-circuits more immediately than the myriad abstractions of language.

the pointing finger, look of fear -- indicating the danger, a fuckin' bigbad wolf is about to eat us up -- yr work (altho not seen in the flesh) has this primal gestural element of immediacy, a warning, a pause -- i think that the fact the work is executed so skillfully accentuates this non-lingual prompt of 'hey, wait-a-minnit, who makes the world?' & gifts the attentive viewer an oppo of reflection upon the facts of world-making, as it is, we create the demand & it is we who are at the stern -- where should our ship sail? this aspect alone gives me, as a subjective viewer, a respect for yr work as yr seriously addressing such issues.

apologies for pointing to Koons, i did notice some of yr earlier works predated his works in the "collage-overlay" arena, & i think the art-historians are correct in the value placed upon precedent -- once the floodgates are open,, the current gains momentum until ultimately collapsing into the "new" area of operation -- to pun that plumbing, i say pissoir, as urinal from retinal delight inthru conceptual turmoil, how moist this piss, golden.

i agree w/ the beauty of oils, how do you overcome some of the inherent toxicity involved w/ oil-based paints?

i dig how you reference semiotics & i think the rewards of reading such theories leads one to a greater overall understanding of what it is to be & why how we communicate illustrates not only the lack, but also the gains that can be made.

i'm frustrated w/ folks who claim such "fancy discourse" is elitist & this only betrays a limit'd worldview on thr part, we can only advance by advancing,


- - - -

troylloyd said...

oh yeah,


as-u-say about art-critix,
it's like crime,
cowboys gotta have indians
& cops can't survive
w/o criminals,
it ensures the
power structure --

& the same is true
w/ art-criticism --

those fortunate enough
to be educated shall
guide us idiots,

thankfully, the self-publishing
aspect of internet access
has eliminated much of
this imbalance & given
platform for anyone
concerned w/ such topic --

& we all know
that amateurs
often make ' better '
for they love
what thr doing,