Poking idily through my files of random art that I like, and found myself gazing, with my usual ambivalence, at Michael Parkes and Gil Bruvel.

They’re both, arguably, surrealists, although fairly commercial ones. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.* Lots of hot chicks. I have no objection to this, hot chicks are as good a subject as anything, and if they painted, for example, naked mole rats, the niche I am carving out for myself would be a lot more crowded. And they do some very skilled work, and I greatly admire their technique. I should paint a quarter so well. Arguably, they also get a bit repetitive, but hey, who doesn’t? I may have mined out what I have to say about women and tigers with a single painting, but there’s no reason Parkes can’t find endless inspiration in the pairing. And geese. And midgets in ballet costumes.

But at the same time, there’s something vaguely 80’s about it all, and in my mind they’re lumped with Nagel and Olivia. And yes, that is a vague guilt you’re hearing. Chalk it up to my fine art roots. (Also, I learned a few months ago that if you mention Patrick Nagel to my mother, she goes batshit crazy. Evidentally teaching college art classes meant that about one-in-three students listed Nagel as their primarily influence, provoking a sort of violent Pavlovian response on her part these days. I will have to hide that collection of his work next time they visit…)

However, that’s a tangent. Parkes and Bruvel, I was talking about. I do like a lot of their work. But the clowns. Shit. I hate clowns. Even the kind of Cirque-de-Soile Euroclowns–they may not be Pennywise, but they’re still creepy. Both these artists have the Clown Thing goin’ on. I don’t know if they find them creepy, too. Maybe they do. Hell, I bet even clowns find other clowns creepy. And mimes. I was chased around an ice sculpture by a mime as a small child, and I have not forgive the breed since.

So I find myself ambivalent about it all. Parts I really like, parts that give me the heebie-jeebie-weebies, part of the technique I love, part of the subject I yawn at. Doubtless there are people out there doing the same for me–“Technique’s okay, but god! Enough with the gnomes and the animals in hats!”–but I suppose them’s the breaks.

I feel none of this guilt over Yerka. Maybe it IS the hot chicks…

*I mean that.

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