AUGUST 27-SEPTEMBER 22
Artists Talk: September 19 @ 2 pm
Painter Paul X Rutz & Wood sculptor Christopher B Wagner have worked together on two series over the past two years, asking how they can combine their skills toward novel ways to make portraits. In this body of work they have used tattoos as a means of creating a narrative. They have entitled their show “The Tattooed”.
With Paul, tattoos replace faces as the focus of his painted portraits. He has carved lines, craters and holes into the wood panels around the painted bodies. These decisions come from months of experimentation into how painting can echo tattooing, digging into as well as marking the surface of ourselves. To quote Paul, “The tattooed body isn’t like a canvas, because we don’t etch into canvases. Anyone with a tattoo knows the pain is part of it. I also painted each body from multiple points of view, wrapping the picture around the body somewhat, as many Paleolithic cave painters did. This is one way to make documentary pictures without resorting to photography, and it requires models willing to pose for several weeks.” Paul explains that in their project with a series of combat veteran portraits, they spent more than 400 hours together in Paul’s studio with live models. It pulled Chris out of his comfort zone, the woodshop, for nearly a year. This time Paul asked Chris they could work in the cramped hands and no-turning-back attitude of Christopher’s wood carving.
Christopher carves sculpture from reclaimed wood. He’ll then paint and sand to get the surface he is looking for. In this body of work Christopher has used tattoos as a means of creating a narrative that will either buttress or contradict the message of the sculpted form. Most of these pieces used a model as a reference point in which to jump off of. Sometimes he left their tattoos relatively intact, others he completely strayed from what they chose for themselves, and recreated the imagery on their surface in order to tell the story or give the sensation that he wanted. “Likeness is never a goal of mine” says Christopher. “Only the conveyance of a thought wrapped up in emotion. Few ways of engaging with art can become as integral to an individual as becoming tattooed. In the same way a great work of art can tattoo itself on your soul.”