identification of an aesthetic can serve various positive purposes.
2 The naming - in
this case neopriest - grants an opportunity to take a breath, and
contemplate, distancing from the art object in order to place it in
relation to historical and philosophical positioning.
3 For the artists,
it affords an objective from which to consider why the name is
4 For the
appreciator, it allows for roads of association to be travelled that
might not have been self generated and thus also discover the aesthetic
that runs within these works and from there discern the correlations.
5 To the art
writer, critic and curator, it gives a platform upon which to comment,
theorise, criticize and organise.
6 For some, it
increases the already rich fog that surrounds the art object, increasing
mystique and like a sauce, adding a new flavour to an already
sufficiently nourishing dish.
7 The naming of an
aesthetic presents ruminating possibilities hitherto undiscovered and in
this respect can be pronounced a viable exercise in thought.
The grouping of the works as neopriest is circumstantial and in so
declaring this fact there is acknowledgement that there are most
certainly more neopriest works out there than the perpetrators of the
denomination have time to access. For the time being, the group of
artists is this, in alphabetical order (a non-hierarchical
classification of 'before' or 'after'): Aleks Bartosik, Osvaldo Ramirez
Scott Ellis, Scott McEwan, Robert Farmer, Ed Giordano Jr, Ashley
Johnson, Zachari Logan, Jesse McCloskey, Julie Oakes, Srdjan Segan and
Jenny Wing Yee Tong. Thirteen to date - but the number is irrelevant
(falling into the circumstantial arena like the alphabetical order),
nothing mystical or ordained.
9 Each artist
could have a different idea in mind when applying neopriest to his or
her art work, but there is a resonance, a willingness to be considered
under this heading and varying latitudes of acceptance.
10 Since there was
intended to be nothing binding in the grouping, this works well for all.
11 Neo connotes a
previous generation, the older, that the new has descended from. In this
case it does not mean 'emerging' or nascent but refers to historical
comparisons and precedents.
12 There is a
maturity to the works of each of the artists; they have all fully
arrived, been 'outed', blooded, vetted and assumed rank.
13 The acronym
most applicable seems to be Pop Realists Intellectually Engaged in Story
Telling and each of the words is coloured in varying tones, hues and
brightness in relation to the works.
Some are more saturated with Pop;
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo, Scott McEwan and Robert Farmer all use a
cartoon style and coloring.
15 Some are
stronger in the Realist spectrum; Ashley Johnson, Zachari Logan, Aleks
Bartosik and Julie Oakes.
16 Some are more
heatedly engaged such as Giordano with his inescapable angst or Jesse
McCloskey with his expressionistic handling.
17 Others are
cooler, more analytical, like Scott Ellis' carefully constructed
manipulations of imagery taken from media sources.
18 All are telling
stories and are intellectually engaged. Some repeat the same characters
and plot lines like Jesse McCloskey with his girl/witch and dog/devil or
Srdjan Segan with the innards of his stretched men being exposed, again
and again, or Jenny Wing Yee Tong with her donkeys lit by antique
chandeliers causing swoons.
19 But all of the
works contain some of the ingredients of this acronym.
20 The reference
to the real is always present. None of these artists have left the
representational and abandoned themselves to abstraction although there
is also an element of abstraction running throughout.
21 Space also
becomes pertinent in McCloskey's and Copley's work with the picture
planes receding and advancing - but they are the exceptions. For most,
figure on ground reigns against shallow perspectives.
It is of note that there is an adherence to traditional mediums, that
primarily the neopriest practice is producing paintings and collage
works. McCloskey, Copley, Segan and Wing Yee Tong all employ an
expressionistic handling of the material.
23 There is a
metaphysical bent running through the aesthetic. The ghostly and ghastly
24 Jesse McCloskey
calls upon New England witch hunts; Johnson, the shamanism and
primitivism of Africa; Oakes, Buddhism and the apocalypse; Wing Yee
Tong, fairies, fantasy and midsummer night's dreams; Segan, the
mythological; Logan, classical and Christian constructs; Castillo, Aztec
Gods; Bartosik, Amazon women exhibiting a pantheistic display of
curiosity; while Scott McEwan invokes the psychedelic states. Even Scott
Ellis, with all of his repercussive immediacy calls up the three realms
of Heaven, Earth and Hell. Ed Giordano's enigmatic Father Domini or his
crucifixion imagery is clearly an outbreak of confessional guilt.
25 Copley steers
clear - unless the great pilgrimage of consumerism, brought to
iconographic singularity with his shopping bags could be deemed a
contemporary metaphysical orientation.
26 There is very
little of the jaded outlook or detached irony that has been a telling
mark of the post-modern era within the neopriest aesthetic and here the
relationship to the word 'priest' is brought forward.
27 Juice courses
through the veins of the corpus of this aesthetic, pumped by undaunted
commitment to the work.
The artists, acting much like priests, serve as mediators between the
great spirits and the growing congregation of those who have found their
way into the Church of Fine Arts.
29 Neopriest shows
dedication in the artistic practices that have transcended the
commonality of quotidian rounds to partake in faithful rituals that make
30 The obsessive,
stridently focussed practices of these artists are a testament to their
calling where each observes a near religious adherence to production
with personal genuflections to varying principles, be they specific or
as general as human rights and righteous indignation.
31 The clearing
aside of all other duties and distractions to live the monastic life of
the artist sequestered in the studio, the confrontation between the self
and the reason for existence, the telling of knowledge through the
physical body of work - many apt associations can be drawn between
religion and art.
32 And there is
the obvious; that art serves as the conduit for the un-see-able,
assisting in the difficulty of believing by exercising slights of hand.
33 Neopriest is
new - a spark of life more than a crowning glory. The term, neopriest,
is a light touch of a verbal wand. Nothing more. A godmother has
anointed heads and sparkle dust is beginning to whirl with faceted
brilliance causing reflections.
34 This is not an
opening act with explosions, fireworks and didactic predispositions but
a subtle insertion, a glimmer of insight.