Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When you've changed, but the artist has stayed the same

Having spent ten years of my life in Boston-- the last six of which I regularly attended the Fort Point Channel Artist Open Studios-- it was deja vu when I noticed Virgil de Voldaire is currently showing one of my all-time Beantown favorites, David Palmer. But this story unfortunately does not have a happy ending.

Palmer is an artist best described as being at the top of his game for that time and place (the late-'90s, Fort Point being the new "it" artist loft neighborhood in transition.) He would gesso giant canvases soft as silk, with a ground so smooth you'd think they were touched by gods instead of human hands. The key to Palmer's work is a giant swoosh of blue paint made from a single brushstroke. To some they may appear to be the perfect wave, but to me they're more likely akin to the abstracted biomorphics of Carroll Dunham.

So how has Palmer changed in the past decade? Unfortunately, not much, if at all. Sure you can take the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, but this time, I'm woefully disappointed. Palmer's 27-inch brush must be losing its bristles faster than Trump's hairpiece right about now.

Now I'm all for artists finding a niche, achieving financial freedom, as well as establishing a dedicated collector base. But when there's no risks whatsoever taken for over a decade, I sadly must say, "Keep chasing that wave, Dave. Keep chasing that wave."

Palmer's solo exhibition runs through May 16th. If you've never seen the artist's work before, I encourage you to check it out. If you are familiar with it, skip it.

No comments: