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Don Van Vliet - Paintings

Człowiek, którego widzicie na załączonej fotografii powyżej to Don Van Vliet albo jak kto woli legendarny Captain Beefheart - założyciel Magic Band. Trzeba pamiętać, że Vliet to nie tylko znakomity muzyk, ale też utalentowany malarz. Jakiś czas temu Beeheart zapowiedział swoje rozstanie z muzyką i obecnie realizuje się w sztukach plastycznych i literaturze. Ma to oczywiście swój głęboki sens artystyczny. Doszedł pewnie do wniosku, że jako muzyk osiągnął kres swoich poszukiwań i dalsza działalność na tym polu nie ma żadnego sensu. Obrazy Vlieta są bardzo cenione przez krytyków sztuki i cieszą się dużym zaintersowaniem. Nie znam się specjalnie na malarstwie, ale mnie się podobają. Zachęcam do obejrzenia.

It can be argued that, regardless of the medium, Don Van Vliet has always been a painter. Whether on canvas or on records (in his guise as Captain Beefheart), Van Vliet has evolved in public from the status of a minor rock 'n roll eccentric to being hailed by the art world as one of the few truly visionary artists that America has produced. Regardless of the medium, the single unifying factor of Van Vliet's art has remained unchanged throughout his lengthy career - the rejection of all formal limits to get to the pure essence of an idea.

Born in Glendale, California, in 1941, Van Vliet was steeped in painting and visual arts from an early age. Legend has it that he was pronounced a prodigy at age six by Portuguese sculptor Augustinio Rodriguez, though this is probably apocryphal, as is his recollection of turning down a scholarship to study painting in Europe in his teens (either because his parents thought that artists were "queer," or because he didn't want to be patronized by "the system"). His family moved to the Mojave desert in his teens, where Van Vliet came under the thrall of the raw R&B, blues and freeform jazz available on border radio. Soon, the young Van Vliet's time was split between his painting and performing in local high school bands. By the time he moved to Cucamonga, California (with buddy/fellow misfit Frank Zappa) to attend college, he'd added the "Van" to his surname. It was, by his own admission, a nod to the Dutch Masters; by proxy, it could also be seen as a way of formally announcing himself to the world as an artist. More than anything, Van Vliet's flights of self-mythologizing reveal how he wished to be seen by the world: as a man destined for greatness from birth, a creature entirely of his own creation.

In the mid-sixties, Van Vliet achieved cult fame as Captain Beefheart, the leader of the avant-rock Magic Band, whose free-form gumbo of Howlin' Wolf style vocals and wild rhythmic experimentation reflected the loose, spontaneous style of Van Vliet's visual art. And while Van Vliet was recognized as a musician first, he made every effort to keep Don Van Vliet the painter squarely in the public eye (usually through album cover art). In 1972, he had his first gallery showing while on tour in the UK. Based on Van Vliet's iconoclastic reputation in the music world, it's no surprise that his work stood apart from what was readily accepted in the world of fine art. While superficial influences (Bacon, Pollock, DeKooning, Kline) were apparent, his work as a whole owed no allegiance to any one school or movement. This, along with the fact that he was self-taught, led many critics and art cognoscenti to write him off as a dilettante; another rock star attempting to foist his part-time hobby off as fine art. Cannier viewers adopted a more holistic view - that Van Vliet's visionary, rule-breaking music and painting both came from the same creative wellspring, and it was ludicrous to try and separate the two.

The most remarkable quality of Van Vliet's paintings, when viewed as a whole, is that his style seems fully realized from the start. From his earliest Untitled pieces from the late '60s, to 1991's Ghost Lemon, his key thematic ingredients have remained consistent: images of the desert and other non-urban environments, shape-shifting images of man and beast, and his paradoxical use of language in naming his works. Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh, a piece from 1986-1987 is a perfect example. Both human and animal forms are sketched out in the most rudimentary fashion, more a suggestion of form than any kind of literal representation. The overall effect is one of a primordial stew - a miasma of mythological archetypes from the shared human unconscious, played against a barren American landscape. Van Vliet has no "blue period" or set of identifiable phases he's passed through, rather the full scope of his painting plays out like one ongoing dialogue with himself -- where various threads are picked up and put aside arbitrarily as the mood strikes him.

Another quality of Van Vliet's work that speaks volumes is his fearless use of white and empty space. In an interview from the time of his first showing in 1972, featuring a group of largely white canvasses with suggestions of figures in black and gray, Van Vliet opined that "they leave more imagination to the person observing them...they can put their own colors in. If somebody got mad and saw red, they could make a red background." This sense of the audiences willing participation in appreciating a painting, if not their projection of themselves into it, is yet another benchmark of Van Vliet's art. Like Jackson Pollock (whose early work drew from a similar pantheon of sub-conscious animistic forms), Van Vliet's object is to avoid literal representation and interpretation, and to engage the viewer actively in a kind of conversation.

By the early '80s, frustrated by his band's lack of wider audience acceptance, and burnt out on the crass commercialism of the music industry, Van Vliet retreated to his trailer in the Mojave desert to focus exclusively on painting. Major exhibitions of his work began in 1985 in Europe and America and continued through the end of the millennium, where his reputation as a visionary artist "on a par with William Blake" continued to grow. Still, his work continues to fiercely divide denizens of the art world; but those who continue to criticize the "amateur" quality of his work completely miss the point. Van Vliet's paintings are truly people's art in the sense that they don't require the schooled eye of the art critic to validate them or offer interpretation and context. Like the gutbucket R&B sides of Howling Wolf or the sublime cadences of Coltrane's horn, all Van Vliet's paintings ask of the viewer is that they surrender to their emotion and allow themselves the freedom to feel and react.

In 2003, the rumor mill continues to churn regarding Van Vliet's activities; though his associates in the art world insist that he is working away, Van Vliet hasn't made a public appearance in years. Of course, this really doesn't matter. The mythology surrounding Van Vliet has a life of its own. As Colonel Tom Parker said of his sole client upon his death, "Elvis isn't dead, just his body is gone." The same might be said for Don Van Vliet; he might be out of site for the present, but the full scope of his art continues to incite, enthrall, and confound new generations of fans and followers. (Jay Sosnicki)

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3 komentarze:

Ankh pisze...


Lucky pisze...

thanks, ankh, for all your work here. you're active since 3 years and i don't recall ever come upon your site - and there are so many different great works here.

i love don van vliet, as a musician, lyricist, painter - as a truly unique artist in every sense. i know i stumbled upon his name because some critic tagged "dada" on him, and that was in my dada-phase. so i cecked him out, found coltrane, ayler and mississippi delta blues in there - and was hooked. still am.


Ankh pisze...

Thank You Lucky :))

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