PAK's Day-Glo Dualities
The artist Perry Arthur Kroeger presented a series of bright, Day-Glo acrylic paintings at Weathervane Gallery & Club during October. These highly toned, expressive depictions of laughing, growling or surprised visages face off, eye to eye, nose to nose, in pairs. Seen in profile, they stare at each other, from left and right, and the negative space between them becomes a third face, by mutual use of dancing eyeballs or the addition of a drawn pair of floating lips. The excited drawing style has obvious influence from popular cartoons, one might guess that a combination of styles, from Japanese "Anime" to "Cartoon Network" and going back to earlier television cartoons or possibly '60s Undergrounds, might be found in influence here.
These silly and outrageous faces created by "PAK" (as he identifies himself on the title-cards) also recall the drawing style of other art which has quoted cartoon in recent time, that being the work of '80s artists Kenny Scharf and George Condo. Scharf reached his apex of notoriety when he created a black-light, fur-covered, walk-in installation filled with every Day-Glo notion of molded plastic imaginable, mixed with his cartoon paintings of loony but self-conscious figures, expressing crazy-absurd abandon. George Condo left the New York '80s art scene early during that decade to become an ex-patriot in Paris.
There, during the '80s, as postmodern bohemian, he lived in hotels and painted intellectually charged abstractions of stylized and exaggerated cartoon fragments, pointing back not only to his own grade-school notebooks but also to the inventively analytical thought process of Picasso. The kind of reliance these two artists placed on stylistic media reference was part of the advance of the Post-Modern movement which enveloped the art world (ever seen the film "The Blob"?) at the beginning of the '90s.
PAK's style of drawing engages the viewer directly, just short of reaching out onto Elliot Street and pulling you in by the sleeve, in fact. His oeuvre here ranges from the "just-too-cute" to the "outrageously hilarious" and seems to "hover," like one of his floating faces, in a pleasant, humorous and expressive world, glowing in neon greens and purples. On the cute side, there was Bear Alien, where two smiling bears face each other in profile, the space between them creating a bright yellow extra-terrestrial, whose pleasantly relaxed stare greets the viewer's own. Piggy was another "animal" piece. Two smiling, rosy-cheeked pink pigs create some sort of purple chihuahua between them.
At the "outrageous'" end of the spectrum was Mr. Splatter. Two snarling grimaces, apparently arguing, face one another with maddening beady eyes and quivering lips. In the negative space between the enormous purple heads snakes the abstracted yellow figure of a female opera singer, bedecked with a string of large, gaudy beads. If there was one title which expressed the mood of the entire collection, it would have been another bi-facial painting with another strange, green alien peeking out. That one was entitled Mad Clowns.
Copyright 2005, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont