email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEarly ExposuresEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPostmodernismPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlaySame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts
Having reviewed Blab 12, 13 and 14, there's a danger
of having little new to say about Blab 15, the latest in this excellent series
of collections of graphic art edited by Monte Beauchamp published by
Fantagraphics. It features many of the
same artists from the previous books, including Camile Rose Garcia, Walter
Minus, Baseman, Blanquet, Fred Stonehouse, The Clayton Brothers, Sue Coe &
Judith Brody, Greg Clarke, and Drew Friedman.
The quality of production is high and the work is arresting and
original, even if some of it is very similar to art that has appeared in
previous books. Rather than describe
each artist, I'll just focus on a couple of pieces.
Maybe because it is so reminiscent
of outsider art, I'm particularly drawn to "Four Horsemen" by Reumann
and Robel. These are four pages of
black pen drawing on white paper, with fantastic images full of bizarre
details. There are clearly some
religious themes, especially in the fourth page where signs are marked with
"Dieu," (French for God), "Beyond," "Faith,"
"Reincarnation," and various Christian symbols such as crosses. The other pages have strange creatures, diners,
hooded figures, executions and contortions.
The pages are so full of small drawings that it is almost impossible to
take in all the details, and it would take a better interpreter than myself to
work out what it all means. Even
without the help of the title of the piece though, it would be easy enough to
identify the images as apocalyptic though.
One of the effects of becoming more
familiar with the work of some of these artists is that one notes how one's
reaction to their work changes with repeated exposure. I think I was puzzled and even non-plussed
by the work of the Clayton Brothers previously, but on seeing their
contribution here, "Home, Take Them Out," I find myself more
thrilled. It is a colorful painting,
maybe some kind of oil paint on a hard surface like wood. The sharp definition of some of the lines in
the work suggest some drawing was
involved. It is an utterly bizarre
work, with two adults and a younger person.
The man who looks a little like Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead, wears
a helmet or hat with the letters "DF" on the front and a T-shirt with
"Rock and Roll Sushi." His
left arm is extended with three hands attached: one holds a hose, one also
holds the hose and has a small yellow bird sitting on its wrist, and the third
seems to be scratching the head of a green cat walking upright and holding
cardboard carton like you get from a Chinese restaurant, with "Day Time
Fun" written on the side. The
woman wears a short green dress with large yellow dots. She is riding a deer whose right left leg is
bandaged. Behind her, holding on round
her waist, is a doleful creature looking like a teddy bear in underpants. Behind the deer is another cat walking
upright, wearing a T-shirt with the logo "Rosco's Chicken and
Waffles." The cat is black, and
has a beautiful pattern in white around its left eye. In the center of the picture is a boy-like being wearing black
jeans and a white T-shirt with a "Mr. Softy" logo, sitting in a red
wheelbarrow. He also has a pattern over
his face, in green, but it extends beyond the borders of his face suggesting
that it may be made of eyebrows and eyelashes rather than being something
painted on his skin. On his lap stands
another teddy bear creature in white underpants, dribbling. In the background are trees and patterns,
and in the foreground a hand extends towards a faucet coming out of the ground
to which the other end of the hose is attached, looking like it is going to
turn on the water flow. It is hard to
impossible to say what it all means, but it feels like some kind of family scene. Emotionally, it is both funny and alienating,
with the two adults looking blankly at the viewer rather than at what they are
Some of the pieces in Blab 15
are political, some tell stories, some are colorful and some are dramatic black
and white drawing. Nearly every piece
has a forceful emotional tone to it, with lots of caricature and iconographic
energy. The tone is crude, rude, countercultural and subversive. Much of it is also psychologically twisted
and angry, yet at the same time there's a great love of the pictorial language
of popular culture expressed in these images.
It is very different from most comic book art and it is especially
removed from the world of the contemporary art scene that you might find in the
Chelsea art galleries in New York City.
Fantagraphics deserves high praise for supporting this work. Recommended.
© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of
the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at
Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online
Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine,
psychiatry and psychology.