Monday, May 08, 2006

The Doherty Code

I'm loathe to post anything caught from the superegotastjossisthenewjaredtunainthatway blog roundabout, but once in a while...

Before we all drop 'bows on Mr. Babyshambles' blood art...

...I think it best to review other aesthetic experiments from other troubadours with sober respect. Consider, "Self Portrait"(1970):

Obviously, Dylan's self-caricature album art is technically and stylistically superior to Doherty's faux-outsider-art needle drippings. "Self Portrait," however, is highly derivative and, all sympathies to the artist, sadly transparent in its pretensions. Informed by five decades of modernism, Dylan, in a mode typical of his less rigorous musical excursions, borrows the gravitas and assumed candor of his influences without bothering to engage himself in similar internal examination. Borrowing heavily from Picasso, the artist has bypassed the process of forcibly devolving from practiced and conscious draftsmanship toward instinctual and "honest" art. Instead, he has simply co-opted the visual language of early-Modern artistic intimacy - signaling a supposed frankness with an already corrupted idiom. Granted, displaying a cliché self portrait as a replacement for the actual words "Self Portrait" on an album called "Self Portrait" might have been a clever post-modern gesture - inviting future listeners into an environment where self-conscious incorporations of denuded styles have replaced strictly verbal language, where words and musical appropriations have become derived of original meanings and are purely figurative in use, where confession dies at utterance. In such systematic dishonesty, the artist would be revealing the ultimate impossibility of self-analysis - the indivisible and inexplicable nature of the self - thus striking a blow against a hundred years of scientific and psychological brutality in the name of an open, inscrutable humanism. His obvious mimicking of Picasso's style, however, reveals the rather unpalatable possibility that Dylan is simply attempting a historical and commercial elision of his oeuvre with that of the modern master. Rationally, this is the most available analysis, and we cannot avoid the notion that the artist desired such an association in all its cynical and pathetic implications. In the end, "Self Portrait" comprises a rather condescending gesture.

Now, Dave Navarro's "Heroin Syringe Blood on Ceiling of Playboy Mansion Orgy Room "(ca. 2000)

Honest, confessional, brutal, and truthful, this simple installation compells the viewer to question his/her somatic relationship to sacred space and the practice of looking at art itself. A graceful contribution to an ongoing dialog, one cannot help but imagine that Navarro, no matter his faults, is hard as fuck.

Instinctual in his applications and appropriations, but cynically conscious of their effects, Doherty's work occupies a profane space between the confrontational candor of Navarro, the reluctant participant in a particular economy of exploitation, and the commerical savvy of Dylan, the master thief of the modern market. In a final analysis, the viewer of "Blood Paintings" is left gutted and perplexed, wondering after his/her place in the greater dialog of identity and how in the hell the artist remains a free man.


Post a Comment

<< Home