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Monday, January 8, 2007

Los Cojones de Doug Harvey

posted by on January 8 at 12:30 PM

LA Weekly art critic Doug Harvey (a contributor to The Stranger) is not only a firebrand of a writer, he’s an exhibiting artist, too. I’m having a hard time thinking of another contemporary critic working this combo. It used to happen more often, but these days, critics are academics and public intellectuals at best and half-hearted observers at worst. We’re rarely experienced artists. (I’m certainly not.)

I can’t wait to read the reviews of Harvey’s show, titled Great Expectorations. It’s showing at High Energy Constructs in LA from Jan. 13 to Feb. 18. Here’s an image (a detail from Bling) and a description:

Bling detail 72.jpg

Taking the same kind and sized piece of paper, the element of eruption, and a lifetime of experience with the creative act, Harvey has made over 60 individual Expectorations—painting, drawing, collaging, erasing, oozing, and free associating, as if carrying out some sort of occasional, yet quietly consistent ritual in the studio, away from his writing desk. Historically drawing upon the visual and painterly influences of Jess, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Asger Jorn, Kenneth Patchen, Tadanori Yokoo, Peter Saul, Sigmar Polke, Martin Kippenberger … A consistent element throughout Great Expectorations is Harvey’s existential nausea filtered through a visual sense of humor.

Cheers, El Jefe.

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wow. that's neat.

Posted by kim | January 8, 2007 12:59 PM

I think I prefer my critic/painters like Ruskin--under no illusion that his painting was anything other than Sunday painting, though his draftsmanship served well enough to create illustrations for his books. I don't expect the excellent critic to be an excellent artist (that argument always bugged the crap out of me--the critic is a receiver, not a maker, and what does being, say, an excellent reader have in common with being an excellent writer? They're different abilities.)

But when a critic illustrates that distinction, by making mediocre or unexciting art, it does seem to (albeit unfairly) undercut their authority in their chosen field.

Perhaps it's better to work outside of your main field. Instead of James Wolcott's novel Catsitters, think film critic Manny Farber's serious sideline as a painter.

Posted by Eric F | January 8, 2007 2:23 PM

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