Selby Gallery is on the Campus of Ringling School of Arts and Design in Sarasota. Recently they hosted a show titled "Theo Wujcik: New Paintings". This was a binary exhibit in conjunction with a Kirk Ke Wang show at a nearby venue. I did not have the opportunity to see the latter.
Many of the works in this show, while new, are continuations of long-running series in Wujcik's work. He has been doing portraits of artists he admires for decades. In this show there are several:
|Theo Wucjik, "Nocturne"|
In the Warhol. "Nocturne", the portrait is of Mao, as in the famous Warhol work. Even without the artist's visage, we know who the painting is about, and it's not Mao. These works, a kind of hommage that Theo has been doing using different media over the years, are encoded with references to each artist. In the case of Warhol. the title is somewhat obscure, but refers back to a vinyl era record of Chopin's Nocturnes that Warhol illustrated the cover for.
But this is not to say that this is "the solution" to this (or any other) work shown here. Theo's work is anything but monosemic. Besides the intellectual allusions, the level of energy in these works is extraordinary. Even after making the connections, one is catapulted into visceral white water.
|Theo Wujcik, "Blinded"|
|Theo Wujcik, "Splash"|
|Theo Wujcik, "Mirror Image"|
|Theo Wujcik, "World Harmony"|
|Theo Wujcik, "Mountain Jade"|
In "Mountain Jade" we see a Rolling Rock Label and cascading jade elephants floating. The title is "Mountain Jade". Tourist trap jade elephants raining down upon us? An allusion to how jade is mined in the mountains of China? The differences between American branding and the invasion of Chinese goods into the culture?
|Theo Wujcik, "American Vegetable Soup"|
The dissonance between the title and the Chinese appearance of the plates and soup is almost but not quite overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of this painting. Is this suggesting that the Chinese influence (take over?) of the US will be so complete?
Theo Wujcik was born in Detroit, in 1936, went to the University of New Mexico, spent a year at Tamarind printing for several major artists, Printed for Jasper Johns at Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, Was cofounder of the Detroit Lithography workshop. Moved to Tampa, worked in Graphic Studio and taught there from 1970-2003 when he retired.
[The show is down already]