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Altered States and Visions at the Weatherspoon

Feb 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Entertainment, Sights
Untitled Julian Trigo piece at Weatherspoon

Untitled by Julian Trigo

This past weekend I went to the local Weatherspoon Art Museum to check out the “Altered States and Visions” exhibition there. The last time I had been there was in college during a time in my life when I honestly could have been one of the pieces of the exhibition. I could have sat naked and drunk in the hallway mumbling about how the aliens were coming to steal our trees, and the art community would have quietly walked past me, whispering about how I was so life-like.
Not really knowing what to expect, I brought a coffee, a sketchbook, a Batman mask, a book of matches, and a hollow Bible filled with candy. Growing up as a Boy Scout really teaches you that you need to be prepared for anything. I have also found that the best companions when viewing art (and sometimes life) are the bitter, silent companions of loneliness and sobriety. Gently holding your hands, they can escort you through the twisted labyrinth of the artists’ collective works and bring you back with only a few visible scars. So, considering that the artists were presenting material that they may or may not have made while on mind-altering substances or within deep, spiraling trances, I felt ready.
I entered the museum with my eyes narrowed and growling (to scare off predators) and I was immediately confronted by a fat, naked woman. The woman was in a painting on the far wall of the museum near the entrance. One good thing about art museums is that you will probably get to see pictures of naked people. Artists are fortunately as perverted as the rest of us, but for a good reason. The use of nudity breaks down some of the social norms that you would expect anywhere else, so you are free to approach the art like a caveman approaching a new animal for the first time; you get to glimpse something absolutely wild and you can either try to sympathize with it, or murder it.

Jerome Witkin art at the Weatherspoon

Mind/Mirror: Suddenly Recalling an Incident and an Insult by Jerome Witkin

I eventually made my way to the gallery with the “Altered States & Visions” exhibition, and I quickly recognized why it was given that title. Altogether, I would have to describe the art as delightfully chaotic. Common attributes in the exhibition include strange proportions, childish images, and vivid, amusing colors. The first piece I studied was called “Untitled” by Julian Trigo. It was a black and white piece depicting an image of a boy bent over face-first on the ground. Some obscure boxes or toys were stacked lengthwise down his back, a toy giraffe-like creature was sitting on the floor next to him, and a child’s toilet nearby is tipped over as if he had fallen out of it. His hand was hidden between his legs, leaving you to wonder what happened to him. I have woken up in that exact position before. The art itself was more interesting that the description next to it.
“Trigo unabashedly and unsentimentally tackles the topic of sexualized children, inviting viewers into voyeuristic-like spaces where they may safely contemplate the darker sides of fantasy and desire.”
Personally, I couldn’t really see how the painting “tackled” the topic of sexualized children. I didn’t instantly recognize the feelings of shame and dread that are associated with that painful subject because the image almost felt playful. However, after a while you begin to wonder what has happened to this character whose face is smashed against the ground as if he is hiding from something.
The next work of art that I planted myself in front of was called “Mind/Mirror: Suddenly Recalling an Incident and an Insult” by Jerome Witkin. It displayed a series of seven faces, each expressing a different feeling of disgust or contempt. The colors were bold, and the dark strokes on the faces contrasted greatly against the bright yellows and reds of the background. The painting was very skillfully done and it allows you to travel on a journey through the emotions of the subject as he recalls something uncomfortably offensive. In the center images, Witkin’s expressionistic style seems to win over the more subtly-detailed faces and you can almost see the character’s features turning and contorting in anger. The movement of the painting was almost unsettling, and I could feel those bulbous, glaring eyes following me as I walked away from it.
Escaping the gaze of Witkin’s painting, I next came across a monoprint called “Composition” by Roy De Forest. Now THIS is what I was expecting to see, I said to myself. It featured what I thought was a naked Batman throwing up the sign of the horns while standing in front of a brightly-colored orange moon. Two odd-looking wolves were staring stupidly in the foreground, and weird patterns covered the entirety of it. If there was a deep, spiritual meaning to it, it was completely lost to me. Maybe it was about how humanity is earth’s Batman, and we don’t need a mask to protect it. When the moon rises large and orange against the sky, we should run into the forest singing Metallica to ward off naughty ghosts. (Editor’s note: Nathan has drawn up “fan art” along the same lines, featured to the right. Please note that this is fan art and as such, this version is not featured in the exhibit itself.)

Nathan Lee fan art

I Am the Goddamn Moon, a fan art piece by Nathan Lee

Maybe that’s what Roy De Forest did before painting it, maybe that’s what I did after leaving the “Altered States and Visions” exhibition, or maybe it meant nothing and it is up to the viewer to create their own meaning. Regardless, the “Altered States and Visions” exhibition was worth going to for the strange, almost supernatural subject matter and I highly recommend seeing it before it is gone February 13th. Go to the Weatherspoon Art Museum, sober or in a higher state of consciousness, and experience the world through the many talented artists being displayed there.

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One Comment to “Altered States and Visions at the Weatherspoon”

  1. Matty Sheets says:

    Nice.

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