10 Jul 2007

Art Viewers

Art Viewer #3 (Michael), 2006, oil on canvas, 32 x 32"

Art Viewer #1, 2005, oil on canvas, 32 x 32"

Art Viewer #2, 2005, oil on canvas, 32 x 32"

Raw Power, 2006, charcoal on blue paper, 18 x 24"

The artists known as Fritz Chestnut is one of a kind, and there's no doubt about it. As far as I am aware, not many painters have tackled the subject of art viewers close and personal. Or, if they did, the result is more or less caricatural, and not quite in a benign manner (as in "my viewers are dolts, and I have to make do with that because they buy my works". At least Bruegel did think that). Raw Power is on a completely different note: the series looks like portraits of heavy metal fans and / or musicians, and in this case you can only wonder at the intensity of the expressions which arise only when the metal is raging and the loudspeakers are ready to burst into flames.

Not so with Fritz: his portraits of viewers are sympathetic and (I believe) picture the wonder in the eye of the beholder. Being a man of this age, irony is felt as well, because we could say that the viewers are wondering at their own images in art, that this is a mirror of their admiration and incredulity. It's just as if you would look at a portrait of yourself, and when you would scratch your nose, so would the painting. (Mig)

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