As in, what if I use dumb-’headed’ Guston imagery, painted prettily, using some serious and delicate medium like egg-tempera? I doubt these are his direct intentions. The results are peculiar, and simply achieving a peculiar visual often works.
I’m slightly suspicious of these. I can’t tell whether or not he’s gimmicking his way towards something interesting.
well, he’s been at these things for 30 years, having shown similar works at the whitney and documenta back in the 70s. if he’s still at a gimmick it’s definitely solidified into dogmatic intention. there is certainly an affinity with guston in some ways, but i feel like the development of the surface – translucent layerings and glowing, keyed colors – seem to be most important. lutes was one of my teachers at SAIC, and whenever i see his work i can’t help but see their rotund fullness as perfect self-portraits – he was a pretty large guy when last i saw him.
The surface does seem most important, but then we have the goofy faces, and it seems a challenge to us. How are you going to read this contradictory message? Is this work want about that contrast? Is it to stay an indeterminable read? Which is interesting. I’m no where close to dismissing this work; I’m confused by it.
He started like this
early in his career (mid-eighties, not seventies). Rich, grimy autobiographical narratives. Then towards the late eighties he started lacing those abstract ribbony forms in and around his images.
While he goes back to “straight” imagery from to time, he’s been more about the ribbony things since about the mid-nineties, at times focusing on them exclusively.
While this was an interesting direction when he started it, I’ve been finding it somewhat frustrating and stupefying as it’s gone on. I certainly prefer his early work.
Individually , though, these are nice evocative pictures. It’s just the repetition that’s getting to me.
His early work was the stuff though; great hardboiled pulsing images.
I have this little catalog the Chicago MCA published in ’94. It’s badly buckled from an IU studio flood, but still…
I wish I could post those images but even the titles are worth sharing:
“I should have called”, “Upward futility”, “factotum”, “Green me”, “the welder”, “International harvester”,”road conditions”, “All balled up”, “Good teeth and bad credit”, “Head in fog, Mind in the Gutter, Brain on the Shelf”
That last one features a brain-like form made up of looping brushstrokes that seem to be an early appearance of the ribbony forms we see today.
hmm, i pretty much stopped listening after 2008′s comment. now these images are just bringing to mind ‘everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask’ as well as a squishy nauseous feeling.
i’m not sure that’s a compliment.
prior to that they were bringing to mind: miro, klee, kandinsky.
i guess they seem really additive. the idea of editing seems to lie in the transparency and the subversion of some previous element into fogginess. i’m not sure if that is exactly what i would call hardline composing or if it is more fence sitting…hedging.
he seems to be tapping into a lot of taboo artwise…the big floating eyeball for one…
of course, guston did that too, but in a more solid form-based way: where even his abbreviated forms felt complete (especially paintwise). here it seems like a form is suggested and unwoven. suggested and unwoven.
i dunno. i think he might be a wiseass.
it been  days since an IU studio flood
good work everyone!
I like what Carla is saying above.
At first I thought you meant you were suspicious of motivation–is it too cynical, sales-driven, really about notoriety? I have these suspicions of similar artists like Michael Byron or David Brody (not saying those guys are guilty of the above, just that they make me suspicious). With Lutes I’ve never suspected anything like that. Maybe it’s just that he’s a Chicago guy where this high culture meets trash culture thing gets a lot of play already, and his paintings just exude some honest, teen angsty energy.
But that specific motivation, to paint a dopey idea beautifully is confusing. And being suspicious really might be the best response.
Kurt Kauper gets me going the same way—why paint a dumb idea in an exquisite way?
It seems to me that Lutes is looking for some kind of transformation in the paint. The material becomes fleshy, and in a sense grotesque. I don’t find it dopey, but would agree with Chris that this work is really steeped in the Chicago low-fi aesthetic (or should I say ethic? Almost seems anti-aesthetic…)
Allow me to break in right here with the newsflash that the wiseguy who contributed the ‘nutsack vein’ to this discussion is an artist whose work we’ve posted before. Unfortunately, at this time I am not able to confirm or deny any guesses as to this individual’s identity (not that anyone should feel discouraged from taking a wild guess).
[...] her in the past, with a relatively large number of comments on the work in response). They also had an interesting group discussion on Jim Lutes. But no gang rapes allowed: the blog’s policy is to take down posts if an artist doesn’t want [...]