Preface
In 1989, a curator known for her commitment to political art sat in
my studio in front of six paintings whose unofficial collective title is
Dickheads. Each one portrays an iconic, red penis head set against a
luminous, pale yellow ground. Some have delicate, small ears, making
them more permeable to outside influence than the orifice more com-
monly ascribed to the penis - a single eye. Several are covered by con-
doms, or, rather, by translucent oil glazes-an ancient painting tech-
nique singularly useful to the depiction of a contemporary object. The
curator was puzzled. "These are political," she said, her head leaning
to the right, "but they're painting," she said, her head shifting to the
left. "They're political, ... but they're painting." Her head bobbed
from side to side as she cogitated on what apparently was a problem
for her. Stop right there, the whole point is that they are both!, I thought.
That these were in the full sense of both terms political paintings was
exactly what I was trying to achieve: a visual and conceptual experi-
ence whose political content was all the more powerful given that
the message or the challenging image was embedded in the seductive
potential of oil paint, painting not as "eye candy" but as a synergetic
honey-trap for contemporary discourse.
The essays collected in this book are written at the very same inter-
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