Sunday, January 6, 2008

Robert Appleton at Paul Sharpe Contemporary Art opening this Thursday

'Howdy, sailors.

As I've stated numerous times, sometimes work that really gets to me the most is made by artists that are having fun with their talents and not taking themselves too seriously.

And there's few artists I enjoy more than New York-based visual and performance artist Robert Appleton.

His visual creations and theater sessions always gives me a good chuckle, whether he's performing in fishnets dancing a chorus line county fair talent show audition; portraying Jeffrey Dahmer devouring watermelon human flesh on stage; painting mustachioed sailors who'd make any Village People member proud; or simply creating whimsically deviant sailor puppets in multiples.

In the past decade, Appleton has well-honed himself as a storyteller-- highlighting characters who might have downed a little too much of the 90-proof, if you catch my drift.

These are well-lived souls, with plenty of battle scars to show for it.

Appleton always gives an interesting take on their plights-- soon to set sail, a battle ahead, a life quite likely soon to be taken and sunk to the bottom of the sea.

Of course, many times his subjects have been society matrons, who truth be told can drink any sailor till he's weak in the knees, dropping them to the poop deck in crisp piles of Blue Jean Collars with bell-bottomed trousers.

You certainly do not need to be 'In the Navy' to knock 'em back.

If they give posthumous honors, Judy Garland could be a Navy Rear Admiral, for Christ's sakes.

It's a delight to see Appleton premiering his new sailor series at Paul Sharpe Contemporary Art in Chelsea based on portraits of actual sailors from 1750 to 1849.

Each one has lovingly been given his own personality.

In many cases, each subject seems to not necessarily look like he's very comfortable with his choice in careers.

Take a look at this poor fellow below.

After all, who would want to go to sea for months straight in those times?

You can literally read the dread on the sailor's faces.

Below is another fresh-faced foppish youngish chap.

His decorative hat is a nice embellishment-- but just what is that on his forehead, hmm?

Perhaps an in-joke, or perhaps not.

I do have to say I love the slight-of-hand subtlety in Appleton's pieces.

His questioning of sexual identity (bottled-up searing young masculinity cooped up in tight quarters for extended lengths of time) is a hoot, and quite truthfully spot-on.

Whew, it's getting a bit hot in here, isn't it?

Appleton possesses an almost cartoonish-style in his brushstrokes, giving his subjects these huge eyes, smeared lipstick, with hauntingly lit backgrounds.

It's almost as if Karen Kilimnik has met Toulouse Lautrec and they're tossing a few back while at port with Carol Channing and Napoleon.

This is one opening I will not miss.

Too bad it's not also Fleet Week, because that would be the icing on the cake.

Paul Sharpe Contemporary is located at 547 West 27th street on the 5th floor.

The opening is this Thursday, January 10th, from 6-9pm.

For more information, go to:

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