Tonight we’re gonna look at something different Ladies and Gentlemen. The work you see above is labeled ‘The Fountain Drawings’. They were created by this artist called Mike Bidlo, an appropriationist, at the end of last century (5 years in the making) and they depict Marcel’s Duchamp most famous ready-made sculpture ‘The Fountain' (rejected at the Society of Independent Artists in New York  by an audience that was still suffering indigestion from the work of the impressionists) in an insane number of drawings and paintings. I bought an entire, pretty thick art album devoted to this subject /ISBN 3-905193-43-3/ in 2006 in Paris and it remains the favorite book on my shelf since then. It had a heavy discount, probably noone wanted to buy it. Except me maybe.
Let’s read a short fragment from the introduction: “…The black and white drawings, which can be sorted into subsets according to their styles, are vastly different, with almost infinite variations between accurate representation and gestural expression, from tiny to large, using a multitude of brushes, pencils and media. They range from hasty sketch to heavy gouache to something close to Japanese caligraphy. […] In the imperturbable repetition and variation, there is a spiritual, Zen-like quality. […]”
Later, in a conversation that took place in Bidlo’s studio, between Arthur Danto, Francis Naumann and Mike Bidlo, I found this…
"When I started painting the urinal, I began fixating on the image, free associating with in ways Pollock never did with action painting. That’s because I believe Pollock stopped using automatism once he opted to go completely abstract. Automatism has to be grounded in figurative or narrative content if you want to have psychological meaning. For me the urinal is an ideal subject for that reason. By using an automatic technique it allowed me to interpret in ways Duchamp never explored. In that respect, this series brings Pollock and Duchamp into a dialectic that completed them and adds new dimensions to their work. Looking around at my urinal studies, many forms begin to suggest themselves. I see mandalas and stupas… this one looks like a Buddha… the Virgin Mary… abstractions of cocks and vaginas. […] a baptisimal font. This is very primal imagery… very archetypal. They have become like daily meditations… a visual diary. It was not until I started painting my versions that I realized how many complex associations lay dormant in Duchamp’s original."
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