• Southern Extremities

    Date posted: August 20, 2010 Author: jolanta
    I grew up in New Orleans, a city that provides a perfect setting for my paintings; it’s a place where visual extremes are part of the landscape. A marriage chapel and a strip joint share a common wall. The equestrian of the war lord Andrew Jackson stands across from the peace-inducing St. Louis Cathedral. Elegant Antoine’s Restaurant stands next to a fat-fast food store. History and antiquity are constantly violated by commercialism and pop culture: traditional icons brought low by a vulgarity of mythic proportions. Bar neon signs, and T-shirt shops try to overwhelm the narrow, orderly streets of the French Quarter. Uptown, grand mansions sit next to blighted buildings….

    Scott Guion

    Scott Guion, Charles Bukowski. Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

    I grew up in New Orleans, a city that provides a perfect setting for my paintings; it’s a place where visual extremes are part of the landscape. A marriage chapel and a strip joint share a common wall. The equestrian of the war lord Andrew Jackson stands across from the peace-inducing St. Louis Cathedral. Elegant Antoine’s Restaurant stands next to a fat-fast food store. History and antiquity are constantly violated by commercialism and pop culture: traditional icons brought low by a vulgarity of mythic proportions. Bar neon signs, and T-shirt shops try to overwhelm the narrow, orderly streets of the French Quarter. Uptown, grand mansions sit next to blighted buildings; the Mardi Gras beads of a drunken reveler and the tennis shoes of a dead drug dealer hang from the same telephone line.

    I firmly believe that the extremes are a commentary on each other, that the sacred and the profane are sometimes indistinguishable. The way I have chosen to capture these mad juxtapositions, and to demonstrate this belief is to intensify, compound, and bombard the canvas with images. To exercise control of the flow of those images I use composition and technique. The composition is probably intuitive, but the technique and its process require careful and endless thought and effort—a layering of very thin coats of paint until the images emerge crisp and sharply focused, ready to enter into conversation with each other and the viewer. Needless to say, I greatly admire the Dutch and Netherlands masters, along with Robert Williams and Walt Disney. The cover art of the American pulp magazines from the 30s through the 60s, featuring artists like Jerome Rosen and Norm Saunders, is a huge influence on my work.

    My paintings are a bit autobiographical—they reflect my reading, my native city, and they are good-humored and satirical. My preoccupation with lettering reflects my youthful work as a sign painter, and the sprawl of my canvas reflects the mural work I do for the House of Blues and the homes of some of Nashville’s musicians. The subjects of my portraits are often counter-cultural figures who I admire: the writings of Charles Bukowski, the films of John Waters, the music of Professor Longhair. These artists make something beautiful and timeless out of the ugly or the ordinary. Foremost, my meticulous detail and compositional endeavors are an effort to control what is chaotic and disorderly in myself.

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