tom moody

Dan Proops

Over at Rhizome we are discussing the artist Dan Proops, who, among other things*, repaints old master paintings in the manner of a "Girls Gone Wild" video (i.e., with the naughty bits pixelated out). Yrs truly said:

It's hard to argue about paintings without the paintings present. It's quite possible that if Proops could paint as well as Caravaggio (or even John Currin, who's worked hard to get the old master depth and sensitivity in his rendering, making collectors go gaga), the viewer would have to deal with the fact of those painted pixels in a way that you might not seeing them at 72 dpi on a browser.

As in, "my God look at the amount of time and finesse that went into this art just to make this point about censorship or whatever." Your rational mind would be pulling you in one direction ("this is a bad idea") while your senses were pulling you in another.

It seems unlikely that the work has its ducks in a row to that degree but we could at least entertain the possibility.

*Based on these jpegs [or here] it looks like another case of "computer envy" where a contemporary artist working in the tried-and-true medium of paint on canvas adopts digital imagery as subject matter (a trend that arguably began with Lowell Nesbitt painting photoreal pictures of IBM mainframes and was more recently seen in Miltos Manetas's still lifes of Playstation equipment or Wayne Gonzales's acrylic renderings of basic Photoshop effects).

The intended tension here is between a slow, contemplative medium and a fast, disposable medium. For example, painting the browser window and scroll bars as well as the porno imagery inside that frame. Or rendering every facet of a wireframe Nefertiti model. As Ed Halter says in the Rhizome post, this appears, from the jpegs at least, to be "quick-glance commentary on medias new and old through easy-to-get juxtapositions." That is likely the case but you can never say for sure until you see the work--there is always the possibility of a formal wow factor or something surprisingly wonderfully trashy happening in a person-to-painting encounter.

Update: I had to back off my devil's advocate support of Proops on the Rhizome thread. Rob Myers convinced me that Art & Language-style conceptualism was the best frame for the work and I can't defend it on that basis even jokingly. My apologies to some excellent painters that got dragged into this.

- tom moody

April 15th, 2008 at 7:05 am

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