This piece has become rather an important work to me both in itself as a realized work I couldn't not make once the basic idea occurred to me. While ideas for artworks or anything much like planning dropped out of my process long ago for the most part - something like this required more of that.
Before I get into my ramble-fest as I have already typed out for ages - you may have already noted free association is potent in my thought parade! Let me describe what exactly is going on in the piece:
George Bush JR (as seen on television!) after leaving office took up the typically hawkish pastime of painting his scotty dogs along with various world leaders and luminaries he had previously enjoyed engaging in fun-filled brinkmanship and global power-shenanigans of various sorts - some of which you may indeed be familiar with!
It seems in a recent development - most likely a true and factual snippet of breaking web info-advertainment - according to random pages I surfed on over to one day on the web...
the paintings by Bush such as the oft highlighted one of one V. Putin (represented in above variation - my own hot potato rendition), had scandalously been based on photos silly ole George had googled on up. If true cool, thats one more layer of something to this here art thing I claim now to be by Oli Goldsmith also known as myself.
ok hurry up Oli, no one reads this much on web pages.
Yeah yeah ok... so as you might know Hitler - that Füror Nazi guy - was coincidentally also an artist of things like paintings, drawings etc. As was his arch nemesis - Winston Churchill that famous champion of Cigars, Champaign and allied victory (who also importantly took baths with floaty toys every morning and enthusiastically barged around the white house and other estate in the nude - startling the paid help).
Winston makes a cameo in the bottom right if you steer your eye pointers towards that area you can observe this.
If you look super careful you may note the image of Putin (another fellow you might have heard of currently getting up to all sorts of mischief in the geo lands coined Russia), is made up of a bunch of smaller varied sized other pictures!
Those pictures are all of artworks culled from artist Adolf Hitler's oeuvre.
What a cool gimmick you hear me type in your thoughts!
..... much like where in the world is Waldo - but not really similar. You think to yourself right now.
Yes says the winston in the corner, gimmicks are like tactics, yet strategy is where its at.
Thus the titling selection - grand prose really - of this Re-combinant work (or if you will, a mashup, to get with the semantic trends of our times) -
borrowed bits reconfigured into a new art piece from which I invite you dear reader to cull and trowl the depths of the quantum universe for meaning.
Should you enjoy such thought styles and internal scuba diving escapades.
thank you for your distraction.
ps section ..... - the newer less off the cuff ramblings I was crafting but want to take a break from and walk my dog - make sure to check out the bonus video I didn't make but rather expresses some of the underlying stuff words don't get as well I have here and in other current work been exploring.
In this case the fit of tools and ways to bend them (mostly software) I was immersed in - approaches to photomosaics and representation through component visual parts - meant my reflecting on how funny and odd George Bush JRs post-office amateur portrait painting hobby struck me.
You likely know that Hitler was a devoted artist who almost certainly launched World War II due to the hurt inflicted when he was rejected not once but twice in applying for Art School in Vienna. Never underestimate the danger of not supporting artists :)
He did produce a fairly big body of surprisingly decent if postcard-esque compositions of architecture and countryside around Vienna before really finding his voice (I won't suggest myself what the excellent movie MAX chronicling this youthful phase of struggling to be accepted as modernism and new ideas clashed with his very non avant-garde approach to painting.)
and a jumping off point for a whole body of politically charged portraits of Trump I approached through a similarly ambiguous
if fairly different from my less loaded (at least explicitly) subject matter and exercise
and jumping off point as well
A touch more political than I usually tend towards - though my earliest work was much more in this mode. I think art can and sometimes should serve a political or dare i say ideological bent. It is a VERY slippery slope however when you start to make bold statements from just one view when ultimately there is nothing positive that comes from judging others let alone punishing them.
My thinking has gotten probably too involved :) but I have always been extremely interested in exploring what it is to be a self or me. What people are. What mind and consciousness and power and reality are.
What it is to communicate, what technology and media have done to alter us, what awe-filled wonder and imagination is and why destruction in it's Kali wrathful full-on violent mode is always somehow right in it's blind-spot yet filling it out and tearing it back down.
At least I know that "Language is a Virus from Outer Space" thanks to the master Bill Burroughs - who I first encountered I think via Laurie Anderson's insanely amazing 80s performance "Home of the Brave"
https://vimeo.com/14793787 (just the one track - appended below - I love it too much to not share it with anyone who doesn't know her or god forbid the Beat grand-pappa himself! who makes a lovely appearance)
I love her extending lyrically William Burrough's famous phrase with "... and "hearing your name is better than seeing your face"
This gets at the ideas that have pulled and tugged at me my whole life - rather feelings would describe better as it has been this odd sense of recall and forgetting, push/pull, dichotomy, paradox.
Some kind ofsurrounding symbol, representation, syntax - whether in one's thought stream, abstract mathematics or Ruby on Rails. It was my bread and butter as I grew up immersed in what then (90s) was "Multimedia" and "New Media" - there was much 'Culture Jamming" and excitement about democratizing media and I've lived perhaps more than most in layer upon layer of that pesky Virus called language (in its many forms) and gradually seen how much of a fracturing of the world and abstraction of our own making this whole setup becomes.
How it masks ourselves from both Self and Other, frames and determines what the world is to us, for us ... as us.
Thus I might say that I work through symbols and metaphors and words - a style and mode of expression that causes each of us so many problems. In doing this I of course mirror my own experience (processing popular culture and everything else through a fun house mirror of my decidedly weird and witty psyche).
As Alan Watts puts it so well when he reminds that: it is vital not to take yourself or life too seriously, clarifying that this isn't to shrug it all off as some meaningless nothing. Turning down the knob for seriousness doesn't mean we aren't sincere in all we do - which is a philosophy I hold to when it comes to my art practice / life. The element of humour and aesthetic considerations - weird or not - help me and I hope others to remember the wisdom. Life is not actually the intensely important and dramatic thing we are so caught up in - or most of use are. Hence laugh, explore and play (even in the dark places once in a while).
While I don't plan my work and have long embraced improv and 'getting out of my own way' - that I am an artist whose conditioning and interests surrounded media, propaganda, how mass media works (McLuhan was big and still is one of those core heroes).
Eventually as I grew older I recognized and was drawn to eastern mystical traditions (yes generous imbibing of fungus and lucy and some of Shulgin's better creations - such things have proven to be valuable catalysts along the way).
(with admittedly some priming thanks to re-discovering the many incredible talks on ZEN and TAOISM along with his own gift for translating ideas that cannot be put into language - just as art cannot be nor experience itself (we are all in that same biz of trying to do the impossible and the secret assuredly is to embrace that impossibility and yet give it everything you have regardless)
PUTIN BY BUSH AS HITLER WITH WINSTON In “Putin by Bush as Hitler with Winston” (various versions 2016, 2017), a recent digital recombinant portrait of Putin dominates. George Bush Jr. who took up painting portraits of such people as Putin long after he invaded Iraq, and of course his Scotty dogs and other world leaders and luminaries, sparring partners in brinkmanship and global power-games, were also the object and subject of his paintings. The Bush paintings like that of Putin sourced from Google. HITLER, LIKE GEORGE BUSH ALSO LIKED PAINTING, DRAWINGS AS DID WINSTON CHURCHILL, HITLER’S NEMESIS, SO HE IS INSCRIBED HERE AS WELL. Winston and others feature in Goldsmith’s painting while this omnipresent image of Putin over-rides it all, this agglomeration of Bosch-like multi-mini-pictures! It’s a snow globe with a difference! While the analogies are to post-it notes or pasting imagery into this behemoth of a painting, the visual rambling is orchestral, not quite a Bosch but something like that. There is something vaguely reminiscent of Kim Adams dystopian 3-D assemblages, but here the images exist as separate entities, each single, yet adjacent to others, much like the way internet, or informational gatherings of data are achieved. Here, the irony is in the straightforward matter of fact juxtaposition of the power brokers as artists. The key is the perception of art as a holy grail of some kind, of some kind of preternatural offering for ignonimity, for an abstruse and non-existent “public”. INDEED IT IS THE ABSENCE OF A CONSCIOUSNESS THAT DEFINES THE FB AND GOOGLE GLOBAL CARTELS… The irony is Goldsmith understands the nature of the mechanism, the workings of this attractive exhaust manifold and he explains it through whimsical ironic back and forth play on and with the so-called content. Appearances are the surface and the surface is the stream… It requires the erasure of memory as a necessary facet of the process.