Implicit Complicit Artist Statement

This work is about self-reflexivity. As a theme it allows me to explore concepts of social behavior, where the self is both actor and spectator simultaneously. Self-reflexive behavior, being self-reflective, can have a positive effect in correcting undesired personal behavior. It can also quickly degrade into self-obsession, a disparaging mise en abyme. I use this theme to build an unlikely and awkward picture within a picture.

I find contemporary art can be condescending towards the uninitiated. Yet as an artist, examining so-called condescending contemporary art greatly interests me. Implicit Complicit is a performance on canvas of my struggle as an artist who creates work about art theory with eclectic references. My work functions on several levels: the most accessible is its humour, then its self-reflexivity followed by comments on comments of art from the past.

I include a painting of a laughing man in the background of this work. The old painting re-presented is a self-portrait by Joseph Decroux entitled Portrait of the Artist with the Features of a Mocker (1793). This painting functions similar to how camp art functions; it invites ridicule of itself from the viewer, as it ridicules the viewer. Decroux invites derision with his mouth open revealing his gnarly teeth. An 18th century audience would find this scandalous. Yet the artist purposefully represents himself this way while pointing and laughing at you and me. Decroux and contemporary camp art will always get the last laugh. This intrigues me and disgusts me simultaneously. My painting re-directs this derision to the artist only, myself.

 Gregory Nathan Johnson. Implicit Complicit. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 32 x 60 inches. 2011

Gregory Nathan Johnson. Implicit Complicit. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 32 x 60 inches. 2011