political commentary

Digital, Mixed Media

Vignette: Sid Webb

 

“These images are representative of a life long need to use art to reflect the political atmosphere.” – Sid Webb

( Honoré Daumier , after  Charles Philipon , who was jailed for the original.)

(Honoré Daumier, after Charles Philipon, who was jailed for the original.)

Political satire has a long and storied history. Honoré-Victorin Daumier (1808-1879) caricatured the French King Louis Phillipe turning into a pear, and often as corrupt. In 1835, the king reinstituted censorship of images, effectively curtailing Daumier’s most pointed political work. By the time Napoleon III took the throne, Daumier had become more careful, inventing Ratapoil, a political henchman of the new king that placed his critiques at a safer remove.

Such commentary in art today is usually more explicit, owing to digital technology that makes it all too easy to incorporate actual photographs of the subject. Of course, their subjects in return attack the artists, but has any period ever provided such ripe targets as this generation’s overexposed and shameless crop of politicians?

"The Word Only He Can Say Publically" by Sid Webb, Digital multi-media, Acrylic, 24x40in, 2017, $3400

"The Word Only He Can Say Publically" by Sid Webb, Digital multi-media, Acrylic, 24x40in, 2017, $3400

Sid Webb is an artist and activist who, now a "Senior Citizen", still takes to the streets with his wife to protest injustice and inequality. As a Kentucky resident, he need not look very far to find the conflict between ideologies and division that defines our age. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) draws his ire, as does the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.

In a pointed commentary on the now infamous Access Hollywood video, Webb positions the 45th occupant of the Oval Office in conflict and contrast to a sexualized female figure that is both salacious (in its sheer, revealing lace) and innocent (the face of silent movie icon Clara Bow). The result is a bracing image of ego and arrogance run amuck that unfortunately has become an all-too common part of the Modern American Experience.

There is little need to explain Webb’s point-of-view; the images speak for themselves.  The artist has stated before that, “Art is a creation that aptly describes its time and place,” and perhaps that is the explanation necessary. The themes of corruption and the abuse of the people’s trust are here rendered in terms specific to today, but they are universal, the same as expressed by Daumier and others over time, and just as likely to keep being revisited over and over, for the next generation of artists to rail against.

Webb works in a variety of mediums, and included here are figure studies that verge into the abstract. "Green Woman" merges the generous figure of an ancient fertility goddess with a Pop Art sensibility, capturing a Post Modern Feminism in loose gestural fashion and a note of sardonic humor.

 

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Education: Majored in journalism and political science, University of Kentucky; Atlanta School of Art (High Museum)
Website: www.sidwebb.com

 

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"'Nuff Hope" by Sid Webb, Digital, 6.25x10in, 2013, $180

"'Nuff Hope" by Sid Webb, Digital, 6.25x10in, 2013, $180

"Boys" by Sid Webb, Ink & conte crayon, digital restoration, 16x20in, 1967, $2200

"Boys" by Sid Webb, Ink & conte crayon, digital restoration, 16x20in, 1967, $2200

"Green Woman" by Sid Webb, Acrylic, 8x8in, 2017, $180

"Green Woman" by Sid Webb, Acrylic, 8x8in, 2017, $180


Written by Keith Waits. Entire text copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.
Original works of art, copyright reserved by artist.

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Drawing

Vignette: Shayne Hull

Taking Inspiration From William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus 

"Donald Andronicus, Jr." by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 2017, $575

"Donald Andronicus, Jr." by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 2017, $575

When Shayne Hull turns his sardonic eye to public figures, he joins a great tradition of political satirists, such as the legendary Hugh Haynie. Republican Strategist Karl Rove, and President Barack Obama, have all been subjects, and now, partially inspired by the plot of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Hull offers portraits of “Mobin Andronicus, Sr.,” “Eric Andronicus,” and “Donald Andronicus, Jr.,” wickedly funny caricatures that strike at both sides of the political aisle and require no pithy caption for their pointed understanding.

Hull’s human heads are often misshapen, so the knack for satire fits him like a second skin, but he also turns his misanthropic perspective on himself, and those whom he holds dear. Self-flagellation in portraiture was not invented by Hull, but few have exposed themselves so ruthlessly on a gallery wall. Barbed wire is a most unforgiving material to wrap a human head, and his own children model adhesive tape and play with wooden rods that are can be suggestive of something more sinister.

On another level, the portraits reveal the malleable plasticity of human form applied absurdly to the skull. Our brains are encased and protected in these rounded shields of bone, and that they are here so easily distorted suggests an awareness of the arrogance by which we take our bodies for granted; a cautionary reminder of our own fragility and the preciousness of life.

Such dark humor may invite squeamishness in the viewer, yet even the most disturbing of Hull’s images (a wooden rod tucked under a boy’s chin) contain a deeply felt humanity; a playfulness that pushes boundaries with what often feels like a child-like sensibility. That quality may come, in part, from his work with young patients at the Kosair Children’s Outpatient Hospital (Louisville, KY) where Hull and his students created a 10′ x 20′ ceramic tile mural.

"Eric Andronicus" by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 2017, $575

"Eric Andronicus" by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 2017, $575

Hull studied painting at Texas A&M and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and earned a Master in art education from the University of Louisville. The Kentucky Arts Council has honored Hull with the Kentucky Visions 2004 Purchase Award, an Individual Art Professional Development Grant, and the 1998 Al Smith Artist Fellowship. He also won the Frank F. Weisberg Excellence in Painting Award at the 2003 Water Tower Annual (Louisville, KY).

Shaynicus Andronicus, a solo exhibit of Shayne Hull’s work, will be on view at LVA during the performances of Titus Andronicus by Kentucky Shakespeare that runs October 4 – 31 (Thur-Sat 8:00pm), or by appointment through Louisville Visual Art.

 

Hometown: East Moline, Illinois
Age: 56
Education: BFA in Painting, Texas A&M @ Corpus Christi; MFA in Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art; and MAT in Art Education, University of Louisville
Website: http://www.shaynehull.com/
Gallery Representative: Swanson Contemporary

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"Mobin Andronicus" by Shayne Hull, pastel & oil on panel, 18x24in, 2017, $575

"Mobin Andronicus" by Shayne Hull, pastel & oil on panel, 18x24in, 2017, $575

"Are We Not Men?" by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 18x24in, 2014, $575

"Are We Not Men?" by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 18x24in, 2014, $575

"Bad at Pool" by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 18x24in, 2014, $575

"Bad at Pool" by Shayne Hull, pastel on board, 18x24in, 2014, $575

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click  here  to learn more.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.