Justin Lieberman, Untitled, 2008, Mixed media, on canvas, 310 x 560 cm
Fan Fictions and Anaglyphic Works
02.08. - 27.08.2008
In introducing the works for this show, I would like to begin with a bit of history. I had made two "Rocket Car Glue Dream" sculptures and had quite a few rockets left from the original flea market purchase. The first two sculptures were supposed to be the kind of wacky result of model building in which the builder has been overcome by the fumes from the glue he is using to build the models, and begins to free associate. In this one though, I decided to think more about the science fiction aspect of model spaceships and built a kind of "super rocket". Really just a lot of rockets attached together. I made an Outer Space painting for it as a kind of backdrop. In a way, that piece is what led me to the works in this exhibition, entitled Anaglyphic Drawings and Fan Works. There was a simplicity to the final rocket sculpture that I was at first uncomfortable with: I was worried that it was merely a formal junk sculpture. But on further consideration, I realized that the formalism in the piece had been directed towards an almost illusionistic effect which is a significant departure for me. This illusionism seemed to be in the service of creating a believable fantasy of outer space travel. The dilapidated spaceship, the glimmering textured surface of the painting that represented the stars, the drama of the spaceship's pose, etc. It struck me that there is a warped logic in placing an illusionistic fantasy in a context where the unspoken rule is one of an object's own self recognition. The classic example would be a painting that is highly aware of its own existence and status as an object, with the attendant Greenbergian truth to materials. What could be more perverse in regards to this rule than a completely illusionistic scene painting, a window into an imaginary fantasy world? And so I decided to create the two giant "Fan Paintings" for this show in Gstaad. I have returned to the notion of fan art several times over but never in so explicit a form as these two paintings. The first, Emperor Letoseid Atreides II and the Challengers of the Unknown, posits a combination of two characters from science fiction : Darkseid, arch nemesis of Superman, and Duke Leto Atreides II, God Emperor of Arrakis, also known as Dune. The second, Red Son of the Scrith, is set in Larry Niven's Ringworld and combines an already hypothetical version of Superman as a Communist hero with Niven's famous alien, the Peirson's Puppeteer envisioned as a member of the Green Lantern Corp. Fan fiction as a rule has a very narrow audience, and rarely aspires to a larger one. Only those both familiar and obsessed with the original works will fully understand the events and juxtapositions set out by the avid fan. They are intended for initiates. This is particularly interesting to me within the context of monumental paintings, which generally propose a universality that stands outside of all cultural contexts, yet they most often utilize highly codified visual systems of abstraction whose meanings are inaccessible to the layman viewer. The two forms are both diametrically opposed and perversely similar.
The Anaglyphic Drawings are related to the fan fictions but only tangentially. They come out of my recent preoccupation with the idea of novelty, both in the sense of the "novelty item" as a cheap gag object, and in the sense of the ever present hunger for the shock of the new. Anaglyphic optical effects, more commonly referred to as 3-D effects, were widely used in the cinema and comic books for a brief period of time in the late 50's and early 60's. The use of red and blue lenses and corresponding red and blue "shadows" offset to the right and left of the primary image created an extremely primitive three dimensional effect in which characters and objects appeared to be projecting out of the page or screen. However, often the red and blue lenses required to experience the effect produced little more than a headache. My own anaglyphic works fall into two catagories : abstract works on paper made with craft materials and a single sculpture, Anaglyphic Product Array, a conglomeration of red and blue household items.
-Justin Lieberman, Artist