Saturday, October 13, 2012

Emily Ludwig Shaffer


Emily showing the way!!!
Emily has an ongoing series of these chameleon paintings, all of which are the same scale and are an identical depiction of the chameleon, in an unchanged pose. It's almost as if Emily is conducting a scientific experiment in her approach to this series; the chameleon is the control group and her countless approaches to the painting are the variable. With this painting in particular, I appreciate the witty ease with which she pokes fun at the ubiquitous grid. The seriality of the repetitive forms allude to Warhol's silkscreens, although they are different in that they are hand painted and directly addressing the idea of originality.    

The chameleon becomes a symbol for both art and the artist. The idea that the more each painting changes the more it stays the same, manifests itself through the repetition of the chameleon's form. The chameleon is imprisoned in the land of infinite possibility. There is a critique of the idea of artistic freedom that also emerges, because no matter how much each painting changes from one to the next, the interminable image of the chameleon still mockingly surfaces. 
The chameleon is the antithesis of authenticity, easily blending in to its environment. This desire to be authentic and original always seems to be a preoccupation for so many artists, and it continues to be a clich├ęd struggle even in these postmodern times of ours, despite the fact that we no longer acknowledge originality as a valid intellectual position. In Aldous Huxley's Point Counter Point, the character of the successful writer who is based on Huxley, Philip Quarlesis continually preoccupied with being a fraud; nothing more than a configuration of other writers' thoughts and innovations. In Fellini's 8 1/2, we have a similar example in Marcello Mastroianni's character of Guido Anselmi, a famous film director, who delivers a speech on how he wanted things to be different in the last film he made and how he wanted to make something "that would put an end to lies." Woody Allen later satirized 8 1/2 and the proverbial artist's struggle in Stardust Memories, with the character of the acclaimed film director, Sandy Bates, who is misunderstood by his fans who prefer his earlier, light-hearted comedies in comparison to his current, darker dramas.

I love Emily's wine glasses!!! There is something so funny, poignant, and deeply human about them. Although she uses the Modernist trope of employing a simplified and confident black contour line, there is an awkward humor and self-consciousness in the wine glasses that gives the drawings an endearing quality.

Amazing. Is it wine or is it sausage? Who doesn't love a good sausage? I'm Polish, so I'm particularly partial to the kielbasa, especially after it has been aerated and allowed to breathe! I personally prefer a full-bodied, mature sausage, not too oaky, but definitely one with a complex bouquet.

I mentioned the Fran Leibowitz quote during our visit, because it reminded me so much of Emily's wine drawings. "Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine." 



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