Friday, October 24, 2008

No Spitting, No Kidding

When I was a teenager, I used to see Robbie Conal's hyper-realistic, warts and all drawings of political figures posted around DC; I remember a particularly ghoulish Jesse Helms poster from the early 90s.

Conal just finished a show of the last 26 years of his work at the Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica. No Spitting, No Kidding closed on Nov. 22, but the exhibit should be released as a book before long.

I am impressed by his skills as a draftsman. But, the exhibit suggests a problem with political art- it has a short expiration date. Jim and Tammy Fae Baker caricatures date only slightly better than the "Pac Man Fever" single at this point. Even Jesse Helms seems like a figure from the distant past; actually, he seemed that way at the time! His collages are more interesting to me than the posters, although his jokes are good. Anyway, perhaps it's better to think of him as an illustrator than as an artist, and leave it at that.

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