Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tony Fitzpatrick's "Big Rock Candy Mountain"

Tony Fitzpatrick
"The Orange Beast"
Drawing and collage
10.5 x 7.5 inches

The Chicago-based artist and poet Tony Fitzpatrick participated in Dieu Donne Papermill's 2006 Lab Grant Residency. "Big Rock Candy Mountain," an outstanding exhibition of the collages Fitzpatrick produced during his Lab Grant term, is currently on display in Dieu Donne's exhibition space.

Fitzpatrick's collages incorporate text, print advertisements, handmade paper and drawings. In medium and manner, Fitzpatrick's collages are more coarse relatives of Fred Tomaselli's beautiful resin works. Tomaselli's pictures are dominated by images from nature and evoke the rarified realm of etherial contemplation and transcendental yearning. Although Fitzpatrick's pictures are similarly sacramental, his iconography is wide-ranging and kitsch, drawing principally from post-war suburban and urban culture. His works are as informed by the American taste for consumer ephemera as they are by Calvinist, fire-and-brimstone theology and old-fashioned hard luck. If Tomaselli's works are the ecstatic offerings of a universalistic mystic, Fitzpatrick's are the esoteric assemblages of a struggling hermit poet; his striking collages might be pulled from a latter-day illuminated manuscript.

Tony Fitzpatrick
"The Red Road"
Drawing and collage
7.5 x 10.5 inches

Like his imagery, the poetic texts that Fitzpatrick pastes into his collages speak to complex, even contradictory impulses. They are at once banging proclamations and maudlin laments. Consider the text from "Coal City Cock Fighter."
"It is the cock, hobbled and bled to black ash, walking dizzy narcotic, circles among dead birds and cigarette butts. He looks in the Devil's eyes and is homicidally radiant."
The press release describes Fitzpatrick's works as "visual poems, reflecting on matters of place, history, and sense of being." The "place [and] history" of Fitzpatrick's imagery are specific to America. His collages are nuanced portraits of the schizophrenic exuberance and religious sensibility that informed American perspectives in the middle of the 20th century (and that generally continue to shape our politics and character in the post-millennial world).

"Big Rock Candy Mountain" closes this Friday, May 22nd.

Tony Fitzpatrick
"Coal City Cock Fighter"
Drawing collage
10.5 x 7.5 inches

Image credits: Tony Fitzpatrick, courtesy Dieu Donne Papermill


Donald Frazell said...

Very nice! has an old feel to them, way back, like early Americana, Amish, southwestern native american, symbols of times and places, things and ideas. Like the poetry sample too. Perfect for his type of work, and as i said earlier, with poetry in its diminished state of popularity, an alliance, one quite natural to their creative urges, would beneft both forms of art.

They commplement one another, and brings visual arts back to where they started and should alwaya be, resolving the supposed contradictions of life, for that is of the prosaic. Truth is not in straight lines, for life is not. Nor an orb weaver, there are may paths, it is s cobweb of space and time, cultures and nature. It is not mystical, attempting to control the spiritual, but living within it, at peace, in ballance.

Nice stuff, and about time Brian posted some of you threads. come on now Brian, enough of the promoting, lets see some art!

art collegia delenda est

Hungry Hyaena said...

Hi, Donald:
Thank you.

In fact, Brian invited me to post occasionally on MyArtSpace>Blog and, although I've published a few posts there, I haven't been making a regular habit of it. If I had more time (or if it paid), by all means I'd provide them with plenty of original content.

As is, I'm applying for grants to support HH. We'll see what happens!