Note: A clarification is added at the end of the posting.
Note: This exhibit has been extended to 5/25/07.
At least since Courbet, every art era has had its bad boys, and Keith Boadwee wants people to know he’s still one of them. A dozen years ago, he famously made paintings by squirting egg tempera out of his ass (while documenting the process in photos and videos). Perhaps that was his attack on the poo-etry of Abstract Expressionism. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Boadwee now teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute, but he hasn't gone soft.
Boadwee’s latest works are on view in a crowded installation at Queen’s Nails Annex (QNA). He delivers the gay goods: buttholes and erect dicks. One large painting trumpets the anal focus (detail image at the top).
In one of the large photos, Boadwee sports an erection while sitting in a chair, wearing a Supertramp T-shirt. He could be posing for a gay dating website. He's that guy who wears eyeglasses with his boner (image above).
In another large photo, Boadwee replaces his face with his spread-open ass (image above). As psychology, the image is loaded any way you read it. I should note a well-known precedent using a woman's body: Magritte’s 1934 painting “The Rape” (image below).
Boadwee’s imagery is sexual but in a way that seems confrontational—“don’t tread on me.” Even if you laugh (as people generally do), you notice the aggression.
Viewers with a wide knowledge of performance art and gay culture may not find any revelations in Boadwee’s presentation at QNA, but the work can be appreciated for its sharp visuals, abrasive humor, and the individual personality that Boadwee projects. He is good at pulling together an image whose tone is more complex that it may first appear.
Sharing the QNA show and its body themes is artist Patrick Rock. In his installation in the second room, he takes a jokey approach that does not go far from square one. One exception was a video in which the camera focused closely on (I think) the nozzle of a whoopee cushion as air was expelled from it. (Photo above.) The minimalist abstraction of the image was comically undone by the sound. (He could have called it "The Last Breath of Minimalism.")
Added note: Unfortunately, I did not see the final room of this show, which contained drawings and collages by Rock. (The gallery needed to close before I made it that far.) Judging from installation shots published in another blog, some of this work looks interesting.