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One eye one horn flying purple people eater by Hudson

During the repressive be-like-me-ism of the late ’80s, Jason Fox sent a bunch of polaroids of his drawings, paintings, and sculpture to Feature. Deflated by their intimate book page, poster, and album-cover scale and references, amateur graphic devices and techniques, obvious artsy references, and economic backyard materialism, they then pumped themselves up with feisty rebellious libidinal urges of disgruntled and deviant youth cultures to stoke the budding honesty and reasonability in the fuck-you attitude toward the burgeoning, ambitious yuppie, buppie, guppie in-your-face values that were professionalizing, i.e. ruining, everything. His action-figure misfits, mutants, monsters, miscreants, grotesqueries, and humanoid abominations, resplendent in their ’fros, violent rituals, posse hedonism, concerts, books, sex, existential crises, and caveman sci-fi cobbled together a humorous critique, albeit free-floating and wobbly, of the veil of refinement that the encroaching, co-opting, and globalizing corporate mentality was using to separate all of us from our lurking ancient animal selves. These numerous clues led me to believe that this loose cannon was a black who crisscrosses over and back and over again. Remember, the political activists were policing that men should not represent women, straights gays, whites blacks, and whatever next. It was stifling. A dead end.

Amid the clouding la-di-da of the Pictures artists, postmodernism, deconstruction, photo-text, and an overly intellectualized body politic, I was amused that this graduated university art schooler would stoop to conquer via relatively unaffected sketch-note-comic-book illustrationism chronicling and embroidering the growing cockamamie outsider cultures of slackers, droogs, homeboys, low riders, stoners, ecstatics. . . . The consistency of his marks, sentiments, and styles professed something from within rather than adopted. His essays of near fuss-free driftwood, sleeping bags, and macramé Kentucky fried chicken Neanderthals tuned us in to turning the inside out. And obviously he expected the artworld to suck it up. He was an interesting bugaboo.

The Stones had painted it black. The Times kept attempting to keep it black and white. Jason Fox’s truth was loud, obnoxious red. REDRED, as the artist Kay Rosen so succinctly pictured it in her 1985 text painting Red, Red. Red Dread. Through his intensely rose-colored glasses, Foxy had re-homogenized the world. Read red. Red as in having believed what was read. Red as in fantasy. Red as in lie. As in heat-seeking infrared. The door, the town, the wall, skin: all were red. All red equating a monochrome and communist, bloody, alive, sopping, engorged, and of course, enraged. Tricky thinking to settle this dodgy and antagonistic redness in our sanctified realm of the cerebral monochrome. After all, they are all red. Red marker actually, at least initially. Touché Jason Fox.

For me, these adulterated, annoyingly flat red drawings and paintings pander to some equivocation of the artist, and the viewer by default, to the intuitive dumbsterwho pokes the keyboard only because it looks like something to be poked, and magically, to the accompaniment of a bleep, an image appears on a nearby screen,and the connection between the poke here and the image there becomes understood. Grok. Methinks these red cells are a rerunning cartoon illuminating the twilight of the sinister parallel universe of those aspiring to the obnoxious lifestyles of the rich and famous. The artist is delightfully playing us out between the dominant zeitgeist and the body’s being part plant, part animal, part spirit, part machine, part monster from the id. A thing called h_u_m_a_n that evolves through the attempted conjugation of the part to the whole. This is a game. This is an experiment.                                                                                



Years later: Sisyphus. Looking out, looking in. Scrutiny. Surveillance. Planet of the Apes. Jason. Marilyn Monroe was a misfit. The misfitted red white and blue El Presidenty Bush as a gas-guzzling demonic caped crusader in bikini briefs desecrating the American flag, befriended by dobermans, at home alone in some drunken soliloquy gloating over trophies of those vanquished. Psychopath? Character actor? The body electric. The ordinary extraordinary and vice versa.

Fox has not the tyranny of antiseptic, exclusive, and idealized poser types proliferated by advertising’s need to berate you into consumerism. He and his friends seem to share and enjoy compassion through an inclusive shifting of perspectives on sameness and difference. We are all exceptional specimens with a wide range of emotions and possibilities enjoying our personal best.

The lug on 75, a naked chubby shoegazer performing his spotlighted solo, deep in his music, expressing his soul or some refined technical skill with his stoned hands of God on a glowing wiggle-waggle snake of a rod with a head hinting at classical string instruments. His sex is digitized, sublimated, censored, or within a holographic codpiece decorated into abstraction. Is this to keep us voyeurs focused on his art rather than on a need to know and identify sameness and difference, or to lure us into some sublime attraction within the abstraction of the grid? Answers don’t matter; processes do. I do. You do too. Fox’s palette greets this expanding world with red, white, blue, and occasionals yellow and green.

Fox’s friends seem proudly perched in the mute freeze-frame of an unapologetic self-satisfaction derived from an awareness of their embodiment of the root of their nature. They also apparently live in a nonjudgmental community implementing a practical use of wave particle theory. Different. Same. Emas. Tnereffid. Laissez-faire. Lazy-ass good-for-nothing. Frankenstein meets Picasso. Don’t you understand that we are all one?

The drawing is a window and a mirror. The artist gazes in; a character gazes out. The artist steps in, performs under examination, and backs out of the picture. The character becomes a caricature. Upon examination, the viewer steps into the picture. Empathy. Sympathy for the devil. Hostility. Same strokes, different folks. Guilt by association. Outed. Fox’s petri dish.

58: Schlumpy over-the-hill, Krusty the Bruce Naumanclown with dangling red Hasidic-ish ear tresses, Godiva-like descends the proscenium steps into the world and breaks character with a collapse into weariness and depression grounded by his stoned elevators. True? Acted? Collapse. Expansion? Dissolve. Fast forward. Reverse. Pause. Despite their economy, these drawings work concrescence.

I’ve wondered about the stoned limbs referencing being high and gaining access to refined states of consciousness, to being special, different, an artist of sorts, and to a romance with classical marbles, or facets of growing crystal, chunks of hewn rock somehow glued together, or some space-age synthetic, self-generating and activated

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. The mark becomes a line. Through repetition, though short of OCD, Fox’s lines create tension as detail—detail being the sure sign of a love interest—and entrench both loving artist and viewer’s beloved into a kama sutra of sorts. The all-seeing lines of intestinal coke (29) multiply, gaggle, and coagulate or nest as wood grain, venetian blinds, gratings, shutters, and stripes. Loosening and zigzagging, they becomes a chain-link fence (33). They weave into a blanket (40). With the ends bunched together, they net a docile wobegone (48). Solidified, they stonewall, brick wall, thick as a brick, Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” home, fortress, prison to be broken out of or penetrated by fairy-tale cutaways or electronic surveillance or by the clairvoyance of the mind’s eye (59-64), revealing the likes of the mutant, square, or whatever couple, who like most couples in the privacy of their home, get down in their underwear and their patriotism to the sounds of what’s playing on the boombox (59). Flash forward to the grid updated into a sea of holes as a stretchy, translucent plastic six-pack sleeve for contemplation of its metaphysical properties or for the befuddling logic of the gymnastics required to insert which of his six available appendages into whichever hole and if this may be done simultaneously or separately, and what the resulting sculpture means for this big-boned, oddly proportioned weed made titillating by the mixed messages juggled among all of the above and his perverted Santa boots, bikini briefs (yet again, Jason; what gives?) and ’fro standing on the shattered grid reconstituted into the choppy sea of shag carpeting in front of a close-up of a segment of a grid, two rectangles, electrified to the point of drooping into an infinity sign or butterfly wings, perhaps (65). Relaxing with its horizontal half gone missing, the grid becomes the lines of a NY Yanks uniform and simultaneously, with the negative spaces filled, the cloudy sky (68). Duped by the grid—the burlesque of an extraordinary illusionist. The bride stripped bare. The emperor’s new clothes. Matissey reverie in red (56). Look out. Look in. Gaze up. Stare down. How the ordinary becomes electrified.

Manet’s Folies Bergère on Route 66. After hours, the back of the head of this Sasquatch bartender hippie-surfer-nature-boy is reflected in the voyeurism of the over-the-bed mirror while the photographer’s flash seems to have caused his eyes to squint and brow to furrow. Fiend feigned? Given the colors of the guilt and pillows, it’s probably not this freak’s place, though he could be a gentle Ben. Motel porn? What’s the flag about? Is it his? A prop? Is he being paid? Is this his personals ad pic, a horny patriot slumming, or a flag desecrator upping the ante on badness? Is this for fun? See the peace sign over at the far right center, displayed by his left hand? How about the Kouros-like foot with beautifully proportioned, splayed toes on our left? The foot on his left has six toes: mutant. He’s probably not trustworthy; bartenders never are, mutant bartenders especially. How the extraordinary becomes ordinary yet desirable. Pretty red pillow, familiar so as to help keep you comfortable. Why the digitized crotch? Is it digitized for this reproduction only? Does that photo reveal all? Why can’t we see it? Is it so alarming or desirable that it must be reduced to an abstraction with all the delicacy of a Klee? Natural neutral to simple grid lightly percolating with color. Red light, green light, blue sky. Sublimely blending into the picture. Disappearing into timelessness. Save a tree. Endangered species. Singing whales.

Special FX. Fox flushing out the figurative tradition. Where the artist stops, the viewer goes.

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