Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tim Biskup's New Show - The Artist in You


This is going to be a tough one to write. I am not an art historian, critic or expert. I am simply a fan. I tend to gravitate towards art that is aesthetically pleasing, whether or not I understand the underlying message. So when I write of art in this blog, I generally write more of the look, the visual, than of the theme or the artist's intention. After all, unless the work is accompanied by an artist's statement, who am I to judge the original intention of the artist? Besides that, as a writer I am much more adept at parsing the theme of a piece of literature than a painting. Why am I letting you in on my particular process of creation for this post? Because that is precisely what Tim Biskup does with his new show "The Artist in You" opening at the Jonathan Levine Gallery
Alongside Tim's exhibition is a daring, dense statement/book containing over 30 pages of writing and images -- mostly writing. In it, he lays bare many of his most personal feelings about the creation and business of art, including his resentments, fears, loves, and internal quarrels. It is a compelling read, and a wonderful complement to the paintings. Judging just by the dozen or so pieces from the show that I have seen, this might be Tim's most complex show, combining styles with which he has experimented for the last half dozen years or so, and using the text, often written in a poetic style, to comment on, or even seemingly argue with the images. Early in the book, he talks about the eternal question of "What is Art?" Here, in an excerpt, is just a part of his answer:

"The reason that I hate that question is that it is a distraction from the simple joy of looking at and making art. It is the doorway into a paradoxical web of theories that create a fog of context that floats between art and audience. In many cases it lends the control of perception to those that seek to frame artwork in conceptual terms rather than let the artist's creation speak for itself. The question is at the root of an attempt to invalidate the "gut reaction" of the viewer to a work of art.

"I also love that question and for the very same reasons (speaking of paradox...). Discourse on the nature of art works like a Buddhist riddle designed to destroy reality, only art-speak and ornate critical theories destroy art with the paradoxes they create. The dismantling of reality leads to transcendence and enlightenment. The deconstruction of art as an object brings us freedom from context if we are willing to stay onboard for the duration of the ride."

As you can see, this is heady, conceptual stuff. Tim seems to be debating with himself over some of the most fundamental questions that face the artist and the art lover. What I particularly love is how he uses the paintings themselves as an argument, turning them against each other, letting each battle it out its own particular style. Check out the Asylum series presented here and you will see what I mean.

"The Artist in You" is a can't-miss show. If you can't be in New York, keep your eyes on the gallery website which will hopefully post the entire show after Saturday. Tim's book that accompanies the show should also be available soon. Go to his website and sign up for updates, and you'll be the first to know.

(P.S. to Tim -- Thanks for mentioning me in your "Thanks" section of the book. I'm honored.)


Tim Biskup's Official Site

Flopdoodle - Tim's online store

"The Artist in You" at Jonathan Levine Gallery

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