Activism, Conceptual, Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Textile
Clowns represented in visual culture throughout history are the focus of this series. I comb through google images to find historical representations of these characters, what I find range from carnival clowns as giant metal signs (sometimes with bullet holes), to rescued paint by number “crying clowns” from the 1950s found on eBay. As a child I remember finding my mothers' collection of sad clown paintings stored in a chest in our basement, the clown represented as a man in contemplation, often shown reading a newspaper or holding a Pansy in tattered clothes, I remember loving their atmosphere and comic tragedy. The imagery is updated by using the thick black line of a graffiti marker on canvas deconstructing and simplifying their contour.
Searching for non-traditional brushes in Chinatown, Garage sales and Dollar Stores I find tools which make interesting marks on a canvas. My collection includes a fireplace brush, silicone basting brushes, toilet scrubbers and various types of paint rollers. I build the color dynamic of each work by spreading layer upon layer of colors ranging from black and white to beyond fluorescent, they interplay with each other creating complex surfaces which will enhance the final strike. I am able to control the sledgehammer as if it was a delicate horsetail brush performing a heavy and clumsy type of calligraphy.
Sometimes I fill small vessels with paint and destroy them in different ways to create marks, and other times I pour paint directly on the hammerhead before the strike. The sledgehammer often has so many layers of paint it ends up looking like a cartoon birthday cake with a leaning tower of colorful icing. I carefully raise the hammer over my head and strike down on each clowns eye …. BANG! The result is a multi-colored explosion which often pierces a hole through the work causing a dent in the wooden floor below. Colors race and reach outward from the center, violent splashes of paint spread and twist across each composition bouncing and crashing across the surface creating a small miracle captured in time giving the clown its final character.
Chris Crewe - 2019