Sunday, November 12, 2006

Live from Rotterdam, streaming paint-off

Tonight you can watch the paint-off from anywhere in the world. Check out my description of the event here, and my artist statement follows:
Artist Statement Jay Van Buren 2006 My paintings revolve around irrepressible enthusiasms. In all cases the first subject matter of the painting is the, admittedly irrational, and irrepressible, love of painting itself that I've never been able to talk myself out of. The secondary subject matter, which serves mostly just as as good an excuse as any to paint, relates to the irrepressible enthusiasms of other people: the things that people love, even though other people think they are dorky, or weird, or hopelessly romantic and outdated.

The Fursuit Portrait Project is a series of life-sized paintings of people from the "Furry Fandom", a rapidly growing, highly-creative, and world-wide subculture that celebrates anthropomorphism (the combining of human and animal characteristics so common in popular cultre, eg. Mickey Mouse, who, although a mouse, walks upright, talks, and wares gloves and shoes). The people/animals depicted are some of the most dedicated memebers of the Fandom, the "fursuiters", people who have either made for themselves or have commissioned from professional suit-makers a full-body animal costume that they ware at Furry events and other special occasions, or just for fun at random on the street. I always paint from life, usually taking three two-to-three-hour sessions on different days to do one painting. This time spent together is filled with conversation and i'm proud to count each of the (6 so far) people that i've painted as my friends. I try in each painting to represent both the spirit of the human inside the suit and the personality ("Fursonna") of the suit itself.

The Stuffed Animal (Knuffel Besten) series are portrait / still-life paintings of animals of personal significance to me, and other people that i've met.

Soul-mate Detector 1, is a group of 16 small gestural abstract paintings that will be of interest to any fans of gestural abstraction but which also contain secret information that, while being recognizable to some extent to non-nerds, will be fully decoded only by the most geekalicious of observers.

Fursuit Portrait Paint-Off: This event is first and foremost meant to be fun. It's also a good excuse to do something that I've been wanting to do which is to bring the furry subculture together with the underground art subculture. Both are filled with dedicated, creative people doing something they love mostly for the appreciation of other people within the subculture, and without much notice from outsiders. I like the idea of collapsing these groups into one event where we can all get to know each other and have a good time. I had the idea for this because the first fursuiter i painted, Rapid T. Rabbit, of Queens New York, video taped me painting him. Having the camera trained on me, made me aware of the performative aspect of what i was doing. There is something of a time-traveling performance to putting on my painting apron, mixing my paint and engaging enthusiastically with this obsolete technology. The magic that still fascinates me utterly, in painting, is something that for most people is a hokey religion or an ancient weapon, just a lot of simple tricks and nonsense...

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