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This new book by Anthony Goicolea has 27 drawings made between 2003 and 2005. The drawings are similar in theme to those in his Woodland series and his Upstate series shown on his website. Goicolea is a gay artist born in 1971 whose photographs have featured groups of adolescent boys behaving badly. His 2003 book of photography was provocative, a little disturbing, and arguably self-indulgent. These drawings also feature boys doing strange things, but there's more variation in theme and style here than with the photography. Goicolea was one of the artists in a group show called Dargerism at the American Folk Art Museum of work inspired by, or related to, Henry Darger. Although the work contributed by Goicolea there was photographs and video, the comparison with Darger is illuminating when considering his drawings. They seem like illustrations from complicated stories, often with groups of boys who are all on the same side, fighting a common enemy. Even when there's some sexual reference and the boys are eroticized, the drawings are not sexual. As with his other work, Goicolea takes pleasure in being playfully shocking. For example, in "Golden Shower," a yawning boy has a white fox around his neck, while in front of him a black rabbit leans back and pees a golden stream. In "Shat On," a boy in a striped shirt stands still, looking down (his face colored in green), while above him a group of butterflies swarm and shit on him. In "Wishing in the Midwest I," two boys are in a dark cornfield. One kneels in front of the other. The standing boy has his pants undone, but this is not a sexual picture. Rather, the standing boy is pregnant, with his hand on his belly, and the other boy is kissing the hand. These are intriguing and amusing in their own way, but they don't hold the attention. The later drawings in the book are more impressive. In "Bloodstone," boy in a red coat stands in a forest againt a tree. He is holding a large grey thing that can't be too heavy because he is not straining. On this thing are small animals like worms, moths and snails. Dark brown liquid pours out from many holes. Yet the boy seems calm, while a pair of hands reach around from behind the tree and cover his eyes. While the tone of the images is similar to those previous ones, it is more carefully finished, and it is quite perversely beautiful. Even more striking is the final drawing, "Red Sky." Two boys sit in a tree under a red sky. The boys are in white and seem at peace. Yet green crows fill the lower branches, and one of the boys is being pulled down by a pair of hands holding on to one of his feet. The use of color, the geometry of the branches, and the play of light and dark all work together to create a breathtaking image. These are large pictures: "Red Sky" is 60 by 84 inches, and so the small reproductions necessarily lose much of their grandeur. Yet there's enough here to show that Goicolea is developing in interesting ways.
Link: Anthony Goicolea website
© 2008 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.
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