Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cave of the Unknown

Grotesque panel design (18th c. silver?)

Studio view.
I carry two definitions in my head for grotesque, what I know most people think and what I think to be the real definition. Both are right and both are incomplete but basically mine's better. 

Voila! A sort of cave of the unknown.

Grotesque equals Gross! Is that what you think? Grotesque: the amalgam of plant, animal, and artificial in a sinuous decorative form, that's what I think. But I just looked it up in my Dictionary of Ornament, (Lewis & Darley, © 1986, Cameron Books), and it doesn't exactly say that or even what I thought it would. 

Take an object.

I thought it all started with the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum but it actually dates from the discovery of buried ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea in 1488 and Pompeii wasn't unearthed until the late 18th century. Anyway, in both cases the discovery revealed essentially the same thing (see my definition). As a working definition mine is good and succinct but the mystery remains: where and how did this idea really start?

Do something to it.

Do something else to it.

Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it. Do something else to it. (Jasper Johns) That's kind of what I've done with one particular grotesque panel design. I can't reveal it's original because I don't know it.

Toy Robot, NYC circa 1980 

I think it may have been a design etched in a piece of 18th c. silver. I'm pretty sure the image came from the Magazine Antiques. So what I've done with the motif is to tear it apart and paint the parts on top of collaged panels. The reason I bring this up now is because many of my collages works which were begun 10 or more years ago are currently on view in two venues.  Linda Chase's shop, New Vignette has a couple of ovals and Katrien van der Schueren, aka Madame Voila! has a number of my works hanging in her gallery, Voila!

collage "J"

collage "A"

Now, it's up to you to explore the cave of the unknown. Go.
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