Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hungry Hyaena updates aren't appearing regularly of late. This lull in posting can be attributed, in part, to my renewed efforts in the studio - preparation for September shows - but I've also found myself with little to say or, at least, little desire to say anything.

As I've observed before, my more productive painting periods are usually marked by a turn from prose to poetry. As I drift into the more abstract, emotional medium, I also become relatively inarticulate. In this mode, I more closely resemble the hackneyed artist stereotype, a dreamy, emotionally guided beast.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive, too. In fact, I fear I'm a little afraid. I'm afraid of squandered potential, of what a forgotten writer once described as "the long, melancholy roar" that is a life devoid of hope. I'm not afraid for myself, really; I've been blessed with a steady disposition and the ability to adapt, happily enough, to almost any circumstance. I'm afraid for us, the global populace. What incentive do we have to strive for betterment if we lack faith and hope, which are inextricably bound to one another?

In Cat Power's lovely cover of the Velvet Underground song, "I Found A Reason," she sings, "Oh, I do believe in all the things you say. What comes is better than what came before." The song is included in the Wachowski's brothers' recent movie, "V For Vendetta." Hunched over his jukebox, listening to the song, the film's protagonist, V, a silver-tongued, impassioned terrorist (cough, freedom fighter) who lives alone in an underground bunker cum library of antiquities, comments that he has listened through his music collection hundreds of times, but has never danced to it. This seemingly straightforward observation betrays V's waning faith in the moral superiority of his cause.(1) It also indicates how much life experience V has sacrificed to pursue his ostensibly noble, if murderous ambition. An idea remains just that, a notion, until it is made manifest through action. Similarly, listening to music is merely appreciation, an intellectual activity. To fully experience the songs, V will need to move with the music.

The filmmakers' choice of "I Found A Reason" interests me. The lyrics suggest that a lover has provided the speaker/singer with a reason to go on and, indeed, the romantic subplot of "V For Vendetta" echoes this theme, but the title of the song could just as easily be "I Found Reason." Reason itself represents a sort of intellectual romance; she is the bedmate of most idealism and revolution. Humanity has repeatedly emerged from dark and troubled times by placing faith in Enlightenment values, then striving to implement them. Reason, in essence, is hope which is, as I said above, bound to faith. This is why so many religious fundamentalists shrink from science and why so many moral, rational idealists - Galileo, Spinoza and their ilk - are excommunicated or persecuted. The moral and ethical considerations are relevant, to be sure, but modern man's faith in progress is viewed as competing with his faith in God (even though the two are not mutually exclusive). Through reason, we gather the conviction to believe that what comes can be better than what came before.

As my own paintings, themselves responses to our curious, unsettling times, turn more to magic realism, to the realm between natural and supernatural, I ask myself, if we're to right the myriad wrongs of our day, should we not be turning in the other direction? There is, of course, no simple answer...certainly not a satisfying one, anyway. In the meantime, I'll continue to turn over the issue in my work. I've included images of two recent pieces. The painting, "This Now, Like The Beginning, Again And Again," is currently on display in Cleveland, Ohio, at exit (a gallery space). It will also be included in my solo show, "Mongrel Truth," at AG Gallery next month. This show will feature a number of drawings, too, one of which is pictured here.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Christopher Reiger
"this now, like the beginning, again and again"
Watercolor, gouache and marker on stretched Arches paper
25 x 25 inches

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Christopher Reiger
"Ursus americanus (American bear)"
Sumi ink on Arches paper
7 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches

I hope everyone is doing well and perhaps, sometime soon, I'll enter again into a mode where writing is more central to my practice.

(1) The film manages to raise some pertinent questions about progress and morality despite the Wachowskis' stubborn devotion to a red pill-blue pill, good guy-bad guy approach.

Image credit: "V For Vendetta" image ripped from DC Comics website


michael said...

new works look great. congrats on the ag show, looking forward to it. tomoko has exquisite taste and her shows are always some of my favorites.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Thanks, Michael, and, yes, Tomoko is fantastic.

Michael said...

Damn, Reiger! That painting is fantastic. I love how it mixes the whirling, hodgepodge of your more abstract works with a sweeping monumental landscape. Now I wish even more that I could come and see the show.

Hungry Hyaena said...


Thanks so much, man. Wish you could be here.