Sunday, October 28, 2012

Roy Green’s "Faunatopia"exhibit reviewed by Debora Alanna


Title, let’s start with the title. Faunatopia.
Roy Green:
...sound of the work, better than faunaphobic, faunaphile.
Phallic pop song.
Stereolab, Brian Eno.

Roy Green’s paintings at the Polychrome Gallery identify the concrete-jungle fevered artist, the urban-bird soul, a jazzed player. Like Gus the Myna Bird in the Stereolab song; Green’s paintings are a self determined fact. A rife assiduousness, Brian Eno do it or die passion. Green identifies fauna within that is substantiated with marvellous experimentation integral as a body organ, contained by his psyche, fundamental to ours. We read each work entitled with the signifying designation possessing regions or periods of the animus or anima, anthropomorphic archetypes, as Jung would say. Green distinguishes life that acts independent of time or constituency. ...the unconscious again changes its dominant character and appears in a new symbolic form, representing the Self.[1]

As a theme or subject, birds have entranced artists forever, using them as anthropomorphic selves from Moctezuma II in his magnificent quetzal-and-cotinga-feathered headdress, or eagle feathers crowning First Nation’s warriors, emulating and evoking the power of the sacred bird. Nimes amphitheatre 19th c carving where the phallus is a bird’s force and direction, with the several female sexual apertures or eggs, conquest’s intention or outcome of reproduction included. Idealized beauty birds of Hiroshige or Hokusai, Hieronymus Bosch’s soul birds or doctore del pesto, the trickster bird, Picasso’s Guernica shows bird as persecution, Morris Graves’ Aves emote painfully; Tim Hunter birds are the archetypal Shadow, Susan Rothenberg’s bird is introverted agony - birds fly through cultures and through time. And now we have Roy Green. He paints more than birds. He paints archetypal environments, employing anthropomorphic characterization. Roy Green’s sensibility and copious oeuvre can be considered through Thornton Dial’s musings, another painter of birds, and the like...Art ain’t about paint. It ain’t about canvas. It’s about ideas. I have found how to get my ideas out and I won’t stop. I got ten thousand left.[2]

Green’s proliferation is predominantly California summer coloured scapes, populated with the seer’s bared trees, wandering or stencil bound people. Where Basquiat graffiti peace signs dot harshly in his portrait of Charlie Parker, The Bird, Green stencils a supple wistfulness. Titillating, Boschian strawberry cult figure relations with the bigger than life juicy flesh, enduring hard edged speech bubbles pop, symbols galore punctuate. Hallowing halos. Green paints vivid, spirited and significant paintings. In this exhibition, most visible and poignant are his birds, as distillation.

In A Dictionary of Symbols by J.E. Cirlot, Psychology Press, 1990 p.26: Every winged being is symbolic of spiritualization. The bird, according to Jung, is a beneficent animal representing spirits or angels, supernatural aid, thoughts and flights of fancy. The author cites several occurrence of birds, as symbols acknowledged in many cultures, including the image of man suffering accompanied by a bird on a pole in a Lascaux cave drawing suggesting the bird is the man’s soul or trance-like state, the Ba (soul) represented in Egyptian hieroglyphs, androcephalous bird in Greek and Romanesque art. Gaston Bachelard, Cirlot says, regarded the blue bird, the outcome of aerial motion, a pure association of ideas.

Cirlot quotes from the Upanishads: Two birds, inseparable companions, inhabit the same tree. The first eats the fruit of the tree The first bird is Jivatma and the second is Atma or pure knowledge, free and unconditioned; and when they are joined, inseparably, then one is indistinguishable from the other except in an illusory sense. Green binds human desire to unconditional understanding.

The bird as a soul symbol is universal, and Green creates the depth of soulful lore, developing high-flying chronicles in this exhibition.

Wow and Flutter - Roy Green

Wow and Flutter (courtesy Roy Green)

Evoking the Thai Panora-Paksa, the monkey headed bird creature, a crimson flowering emanates from Green’s bird heart. As described in the presiding lined speech bubble, the monkey head sings microphonically without recording, denoted by the empty turntable floating in the turquoise sea. The subject is the affecting wow and unflappable flutter, reiterated by a flouncy pink skewed infinity symbol cloud in the unbounded sky. Distressing and tremulous, mysterious as the ancients, in musical terms this work is a virtuoso performance.

Ice Cream for Crow - Roy Green

Ice Cream for a Crow (courtesy Roy Green)
According to Ernest Ingersoll in Birds in Legend and Fable and Folklore [3] published in1923 crows found their way into stories through their natures. Yocut creation myth has the crow, together with the hawk forming land from earth a duck brought up from the water. The crow picked more than his share from the duck’s bill, and laughed when the hawk realized the crow’s mountains were larger. In biblical teachings, ‘crow's’ aka raven’s impiety in not returning to the Ark, was relegated to a carrion eater evermore. Green’s Ice Cream for a Crow shows the artist’s empathy for the crow’s timeless motives. Labels surround the treat, and his crow advances with infinity convoluted above, has an ice cream for his pleasure. Just desserts.

Instant Karma
The rascal crow again dominates in Instant Karma. A proverb in India says the crow that puts on peacock feathers finds that they fall out and is left only with his harsh voice. This crow perched on a memory of growth, evokes Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (A Book for All and None) XXXVI. The Land of Culture:
All times and peoples gaze divers-coloured out of your veils; all customs and beliefs speak divers-coloured out of your gestures. He who would strip you of veils and wrappers, and paints and gestures, would just have enough left to scare the crows. Verily, I myself am the scared crow that once saw you naked, and without paint; and I flew away when the skeleton ogled at me. Rather would I be a day-labourer in the nether-world, and among the shades of the by-gone.
Green’s crow here is perched on the severe reality of a by-gone fem-tree, the coloured veils nearly faded at the top of the work. The scared crow might have a harsh voice (his beak is firmly shut), but he acknowledges his directive karmic outcome, perching on reconciled consequence.

Dream Machine - Roy Green
Dream Machine (courtesy Roy Green)

While a fire pot cooks a steamy dream, a bird headed man divines to the left while woman with an overlarge, unstable top hat guitars the machination. Heated bird body dreamily holds a slumbering nude, the subject of the dreamers dream. But holding the tailspin of another bird flying impaled by heart’s arrow darkening the dreamscape, a faceted connection, maybe a mystic dream machine output, reminiscent of Brion Gysin's Dreamachine inspired by William Grey Walter’s book, The Living Brain where flickering evocation breaks the dreamers focus braving knowledge between awake and asleep. Green, with confounding inscrutability captures the faceted, askew ‘tween worlds.

Modern Times - Roy Green

Modern Times (courtesy Roy Green)

If we lived in Medieval Europe, we might encounter Green’s scenarios as acta zoological, the way animals as people behave. Encountering his work, Green shows that here and now, times are complex. Echoing, the bird’s outpouring is filled with, as Roy Green says, nonsense pattern information, his zoological action research is presented in cartoon speech balloon imagery. A bare branch holds the carefully feathered fellow, but wispy cloud lines are above and below the hold, with a dense blue cloud shape sideways. Mountain peaks very low indicates the bird rests far and away. The bird calls times’ modernity nonsensical isolation. Voicing disquiet, even as a trio of fugue lines to the sky is a solitary endeavour. Green’s eloquent articulation is an atonal lament.

Wanderlust - Roy Green

Wanderlust (courtesy Roy Green)

Wanderlust figures an immeasurable landscape inserted between two barren trees. A nude flowers before the cane supported, primeval cloud headed male who speaks in aviary language, the bird’s speech his symbolic and blue (spiritual) ideal, with an inverse triangulation, a relational point. His song is loud and ordered as the stripes, with whimsy stenciled ephemera.

The last stanza of Robert Williams Service’s poem, Wanderlust...

Grim land, dim land, oh, how the vastness calls!
Far land, star land, oh, how the stillness falls!
For you never can tell if it's heaven or hell,
And I'm taking the trail on trust;
But I haven't a doubt
That my soul will leap out
On its Wan-der-lust.

Green’s Wanderlust, too, is a grim, dim land overtaken by the male’s a cappella, an aria of lustful, covetous yearning. More, there are moral challenges painted as ancient as The Panchatantra fables believed to have originated in the 3 rd century BCE [4] where animals were used to discuss how people relate, moreover as Service points out, For you can never tell if it’s heaven or hell. Green’s work is contrition held, as the painted stickling figure’s heavenward vocalization observes.

Bird Box

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. ~ Oscar Wilde

Chock-a- block with much Green symbology a five sided-painting or polychrome sculpture, Bird Box encapsulates Green’s dimensionality. Rakish hats off and on, jay-birds strumming, Roy (Vive le Roi!) the king- crown floats, graceful aimlessness, quatrefoil metaphorically transient, the crowing swathed in feathered frenzy, dot dot dot. The Bird Box is a fun and fantastic but entirely serious collection of Roy Green’s dramatic responses to life. Tennessee Williams’ production notes to The Glass Menagerie were reproduced by Richard E. Kramer as The Sculptural Drama: Tennessee Williams's Plastic Theatre. In Williams’ notes:

Everyone should know nowadays the unimportance of the photographic in art: that truth, life, or reality is an organic thing which the poetic imagination can represent or suggest, in essence, only through transformation, through changing into other forms than those which were merely present in appearance.

Essentially, this is a perfect explanation of Green’s painting organics. Throughout Faunatopia, Roy Green transforms paint into poetic essence.

Read Philip Willey’s review of Roy Green’s work here:
Read another Debora Alanna review of Roy Green’s work here:

[1] M.-L. von Franz, ‘The Process of Individuation’ in Carl Jung ed., Man and his Symbols (London 1978) p. 207-8
[4] Ryder, Arthur W. (transl) (1925), The Panchatantra, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 8172240805 (also republished in 1956, reprint 1964, and by Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, 1949). (Translation based on Hertel's North Western Family Sanskrit text.)

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