We live in an age where technology has made everything so easy and accessible that many are deluded into believing that even without any training they’re at the level of a professional photographer, designer, model, artist, actor, musician, DJ, writer—“I’m good at EVERYTHING!” The thing about “belief,” though, is that you can believe in anything you want, but that doesn’t make it true. Santa Claus, Jesus, Zeus, and Bigfoot all come to mind in that regard.
“Just ’cause you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.”
—“There, There” by Radiohead
I, for instance, like to believe that we are all artists and that we should all be expressing ourselves through art. I want that to be true, but the reality doesn’t seem to match up because ART SUCKS. Almost all of it. And I’m an artist. I make art. I have lived and breathed art my entire life. Have you ever heard of me? No. You know why? Because my art sucks. And so does yours. I’ve never even seen your art, but I know it sucks. (And guess what: No one is going to “discover you” after you’re dead, so stop harboring that stupid fantasy.)
As if art didn’t suck enough, there is the curious phenomenon of musicians who have decided that they too want to dabble in this crap. Only a few hundred years ago they would have been minstrels, clowns, and court jesters, but today we place musicians on a pedestal where we shower them with accolades and exorbitant sums of money. I’ve met lots of them and I can assure you they are tiresome cocksuckers just like the rest of us—probably even worse on account of fame and fortune. And because they are “good” at this one thing—playing guitar, singing, etc.—they believe they are good at all things.
I appreciate this confidence: “I wrote a hit song, therefore I can make a hit painting” (“hit painting” is an interesting term). Makes sense. It’s a natural, but illogical, thought process. I do it all the time. For instance, I fixed our toilet the other day and, riding high on the confidence it instilled in me, I then believed I could also fix an electrical problem we have in our house. NOPE. I was forced to call a professional electrician after fire shot out of the box and hit me in the face. Turns out plumbing and electrical are different.
Paul Stanley, for example, is the lead singer and guitar player of the very successful group KISS. Their music has made them millions of dollars and they’ve performed in sold-out stadiums across the world to their adoring fans. Anyone’s ego would be inflated. “They like me, they really like me, and therefore if they like THIS thing that I do, they’ll probably like EVERYTHING that I do, right?”
It’s curious how many musicians follow this train of thought: I’m good at making music, which is an art, THEREFORE I will be good at any art, painting, sculpting, writing, dancing, etc...
“As soon as I put [a painting] up in my house,” Paul Stanley said in an interview, “everybody would want to know who did it—that was a revelation to me. If once again I follow something I love doing, it seems to follow suit that somebody else likes it.”
I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s creative explorations or discourage someone from making art and expressing themselves—knock yourself out—but when it comes to the bizarre genre of rock-star FARTWORK, I feel like we need to take an honest look at it and turn the hubris down a couple notches.
To begin, let’s have a look at Paul’s boutique of FARTWORK.
PEACE1, PEACE4, LOVE1, and LOVE4
There are so many hacks painting hearts all over everything these days (like that fraud Mr. Brainwish—wash? Whatever) that it’s become nauseating. When I see a heart, I get diarrhea. Severe diarrhea. And then I can’t enter a pool for at least 14 days. We get it, you’re into LOVE—who isn’t?—but can we all just move along by agreeing: A heart is not art. And neither is a peace sign. This is complete garbage. And there’s more than one of each. What is this, like, a study of the peace sign and the heart? There is nothing to study. Or maybe they’re offered in different flavors so you can pick the one that best matches the Taylor Swift posters and ceramic horses in your 9-year-old daughter’s bedroom because that’s the only place I can imagine one of these hanging. Live, laugh, love. Bless this home.
INFINITE SOLITUDE, ASTRAL AUTUMN, and DOORS OF PERCEPTION
“One sees in Paul’s abstracts the influences of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich, Paul Klee and Mark Rothko.”
I presume these are Paul’s abstracts? This “one,” for one, does not see the influence of those artists. At all. To say you gain inspiration from another artist’s work is fair, but to say your art resembles that of a great painter is quite another thing. As a fan of all five of those artists, I find it rather insulting that anyone would compare Paul Stanley’s FARTWORK to any of them. I suppose you could say there’s a little Rothko in Astral Autumn (my favorite title) because anyone who slathers a canvas with a few layers of paint will inevitably be in a position to reference Rothko. But that’s like heating up a can of soup and claiming it contains influences of Chef Thomas Keller. I mean, sure, it’s food?
“Lead guitar players always paint. That and cooking. It’s a thing.”
—CREEM’s Jaan Uhelszki
It’s titled Crossroads, so I presume this is Robert Johnson? Hard to tell. Does Robert Johnson look like a brown smudge with eyes? I don’t think he does, but this is probably supposed to be guitar legend Robert Johnson, because since I’ve embarked on this survey of musician art (many of whom are indeed guitar players as Jaan notes), Robert Johnson is a recurring subject.
It reminds me of the shitty art of sports painter Leroy Neiman, who, along with Nagel and Ansel Adams, ruled the world of mall art throughout the ’80s. Neiman made wildly impressionistic paintings (which is a polite way of saying, “They’re a fucking mess”) of famous sports stars, which, of course, leads one to wonder: Is it the painting or the subject of the painting that people are buying? Because people were buying.
I will describe Stanley’s portrait of Johnson as “wildly impressionistic,” but I wouldn’t hang this piece of shit on my refrigerator if my child painted it (I didn’t know I had a child?).
PORTRAIT 1 and PORTRAIT 2
Interesting titles: Who are they? I presented this question to the staff and they also have no idea who these people are, but their guesses ranged from Suzanne Vega, to Susan Lucci, to Tonya Harding, to my favorite, from our Senior Editor Maria Sherman: “a woman from KROQ I saw interview Third Eye Blind once.”
I also have a suspicion these aren’t exactly “paintings”—have a look around at Paul’s other FARTWORK—but rather someone was messing around with some pictures in Photoshop and wondered, “What’s this button do?"
Anyway, keep up the good work, Paul Stanley, we’re proud of you—just don’t quit your day job.
To learn more about about Paul Stanley and his art, visit PaulStanley.com. (We chose these selections for review because they are displayed there.)