Monday, September 14, 2009

Now that time has passed and all we are left with of Kurt are our fading memories and his artwork, the art takes on new meaning. His passing didn't change the way people who never knew him will view his artistic output, but for those of us who had the singular experience of knowing this person, we all have new eyes with which to see Kurt's drawings.

This new perspective comes partly from the realization that now there is an ending to the narrative each work contains. I think that even friends of his who don't have any particularly academic critical skills can sense the narrative nature of even the most abstract of his images. Something about Kurt's need to voice his opinion; his ease of entertaining the group; his very being as a form of essential storytelling. He would blossom when given a soapbox or a stage. This all manifests as a structured theatricality in the work; as though he were directing you through the layers of meaning, in a specific order of unveiling: beginning, middle, and now, end.

The other thing we see now as opposed to then, us who knew him, is that there will finally be no recognition during his life; one of those promises which always lay just ahead, even in the waning years. Somehow this was always something which flitted around like so many of the other strands of his life and had an effect even after it was apparent it would never be realized. We all knew his talent could have given him a career if he had been someone else with the same gift and just a little ambition, a quality he railed against with his whole being.

So these drawings now simply just exist. Free of even the artist himself who had protected them so fervently. And yes, that is what they all are: drawings. Even the ones that had been painted on contain at least some fine lines in pencil, crayon or pastel. The spidery lines which make up the lacework of the compositions echo his seeming tenuousness, yet they gesture and combine to boldly claim the only ambition he took seriously: making his marks matter in a primal and effortless way. Whether beating a drum or covering a page in lines and images, it is the statement that the integrity of the thing itself is its singularly meaningful value as if assigning any further value robs it of this integral power and immediacy. Kurtism.

-- David Bradshaw, September 8, 2009


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