Preview: Scott Scheidly “The Pinks” @ Spoke Art [San Francisco]

Guerrilla Fighter

GUERRILLA FIGHTER

acrylic on masonite
21.5″ x 25.5″ (framed) / 15″ x 23″ (unframed)
$2,200 [on hold]


After awhile, the only way for me to ever retain any interest in school was to do exactly what they claimed that they wanted me to do: apply myself.  The only issue was that, whenever I did truly invest myself into an assignment, it would generally, and quite organically, mutate into some form of subject matter that could easily be considered “inappropriate,” at best.  Other interpretations could range from deviant and suggestive to “if you don’t scrap and redo this project, you will not receive any credit,” or “get the fuck out of this class right now and don’t come back.”  Fortunately, when I got to college, I was able to find a professor that actually appreciated my fully-functional Superfly puppet that snorted cocaine, or my play about Mumia, Peltier, and Charles Manson as the 3 wise men involved in a jail break that resulted in them traveling back in time to beam up the Virgin Mary into a spacecraft and impregnate her with the sperm of the chosen one (aka Neil Diamond).  The main thing that I learned early on was that, if I was going to venture into risky territory, I was going to have to execute everything as well as possible.  My work was going to have to be twice as good as anything else, just for me to get by with the type of content that I wanted to push and the things that I wanted to say.  It’s clear that Orlando-based artist, Scott Scheidly knows this rule all too well, himself.  While much of his subject matter might seem controversial, it is never without its focus and the work is so meticulously crafted that the quality and the merits behind it are undeniable.

The first time that I remember seeing Sheidly’s work it was through an Inglourious Basterds-inspired contribution to Spoke Art‘s initial Quentin Vs Coen themed art show, held at NYC‘s Bold Hype gallery in 2011.  That piece, which featured an image of Hitler dressed entirely in a wild berry color scheme, instantly caught people’s attention and gained some traction as it popped up on various sites across the internet.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a more controversial figure than Adolf, but by dressing such a notoriously brutal figure in soft pastels of lavender and carnation pink, the painter toyed with the way that viewers processed his imagery, crafting and presenting much more than a one-dimensional figure for shock value.  What happens when the symbolism tied to the subject matter is at odds with the symbolism engrained in its color palette?  Clearly, any image of Adolf Hitler is going to inherently set off a few emotional triggers, simply based on what the subject symbolizes historically, but part of the power that Scheidly‘s work possesses stems from a muting of power, or perhaps, simply a redistribution of it.  In other words, some of the shock that it generates is from a lack of shock.  While some might appreciate the implied weakening of such a menacing figure, others question the choice to soften the public image of such a tyrant and view it to be a potentially dangerous decision.  The artist’s “gay Hitler” was nothing short of hilarious to many who despise all that the German leader represented–it was taking him down a notch, if you will–and I’m sure that any militant, Aryan, white supremacist youth that saw it didn’t appreciate some “pussy artist that doesn’t know shit, trying to make der Führer look like a fucking cock-biting queer!”  Then there’s the larger question beyond all of this and that’s why/how homosexuality equals a lack of masculinity.  And the question that looms even larger than that is why using a different color palette insinuates homosexuality, or a supposed weakness in the first place.

It’s important to recognize that Scheidly never painted “homo HItler” at all, he simply painted the subject wearing his typical getup, but in a more unorthodox colorway.  The iconic red, white, and black used by the Nazi party is well known as one of the most powerful and intense combinations in the color world, so simply the act of messing with that possesses a power of its own.  Throw Scheidly‘s painting into photoshop, strip away the color, view them in greyscale, and see how differently you interpret what you’re looking at.  The artist is experimenting with color itself and what it represents to us as individuals and as a society at large, so any reaction to it, negatively or positively, only reinforces the amount of power that color truly possesses.  Taking it a step further, the way that we see color versus the way that it is processed by a number of animals, probably separates us even further from the rest of the animal kingdom in ways that we may not have begun to consider, up to this point.

Since Scheidly‘s original pink Hitler image, his experimentation with the more “feminine” color palette of pinks and purples juxtaposed next to powerful and/or quintessentially masculine figures has evolved into a full blown series, which continues to ambiguously dance around such topics as gender roles, power dynamics, and the importance of color itself.  Last year Spoke Art presented a small collection of his images at the ArtPadSF fine art fair under the title of Portraits: a series of “fabulous” depictions of tyrants, dictators and popes, which included the Inglorious Basterds Hitler with the addition of pieces featuring Stalin, Kim Jong-il, and the Pope John Paul II.  Since then, we’ve seen Clint Eastwood, Boba Fett, Napoleon Bonaparte, and even Darth Maul (“Darth Mauve”) depicted through Scott‘s now-trademark pinkening treatment.  And while they’ve featured and promoted his work in the past, this Thursday, August 1, 2013, Spoke Art will finally debut Scott Scheidly’s very first full-on solo exhibit with the gallery.  Simply titled “The Pinks,” the exhibit will continue with the themes established in the artist’s Pink Series and will showcase 13 different brand new pieces, all masterfully painted and displayed in ornate custom pink frames.  And while there is enough ambiguity for the work to remain open to interpretation, don’t be concerned that this is just another Charles Kraft scenario; Scheidly is in no way supporting or in denial of mass genocide.  His only agenda seems to be to craft immaculate works that allow us to emotionally react and then observe and explore those reactions.

The following is an excerpt from the official press release:

“The Pinks” explores the cultural and social implications of color and how the predefined notions that accompany these perceptions can alter one’s identity and subsequent world view. By incorporating either hyper-masculinized or historically infamous figures, Scheidly further drives the point home, making a mockery of his subjects though biting socio/sexual satire.

Looking beyond the initial shock value, Scheidly further raises questions regarding power and those who wield it. By incorporating notorious individuals such as Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Kim Jong Il, alongside religious leaders such as Pope John Paul II and Ayatollah Khomeini, one can’t help but wonder about the personal insecurities that power must bring on in these subjects and such insecurities are manifested.

We recommend getting out to the opening this Thursday in San Francisco, if at all possible.  The artist will be in attendance and these are definitely pieces that you’re going to want to see up close.  Believe it or not, folks, these are not digital prints, or even painted with oils; these are acrylics.  Scheidly has achieved some remarkable proficiency in that medium and clearly possesses a brilliant understanding of light and, of course… color.  If you can’t make it to the opening, however, the show will remain on view until August 24th, so that you have a chance to get your eyes up close to these pieces.

Check out a selection of preview images below the following event details, and make sure not to miss all of the fabulous details and accessories in each of them…

WHAT:

Spoke Art Presents
The Pinks” by Scott Scheidly

WHEN:

Opening:
Thursday, August 1st

6pm-10pm

WHERE:

Spoke Art Gallery
816 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109

 

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Complimentary refreshments served
Artist will be in attendance
Show on view until August, 24, 2013
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/364613890333732/


[click images to enlarge]

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Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it’s hard to recall all of the details.

I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn’t actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room… but it wasn’t actually here… it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle.

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