MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION
JANUARY 10 – FEBRUARY 8, 2003
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, JANUARY 10 AT 8 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
1004, MACLEOD TRAIL S.E, CALGARY, ALBERTA
Calgary painter, Patrick Lundeen, will exhibit a series of recent iconographical paintings that are saturated with rich layers of colour and his obsessive meanderings. Mostly influenced by the painterly activities of such regional artists as Don Mabie/AKA Chuck Stake and Don Kottman, and mediated by an interest in the ‘stuff’ of popular culture, Lundeen’s paintings are an active exploration and expression of his frustrations and longings.
PATRICK LUNDEEN graduated from the painting program at the Alberta College of Art & Design in 2002, and is an active member of the Calgary arts community. Lundeen has previously exhibited his work at Latitude 53 in Edmonton, and The New Gallery in Calgary.
THE MAN THEY CALL LUNDEEN
Patrick Lundeen attempts to put his volunteer viewers to sleep but unlike his life long idol, the Canadian mentalist Reveen, Patrick does not want them to ever wake up.
George Joseph Kresge Jr. (The Amazing Kreskin)
At around 11 pm on a balmy May evening in 2OO2, Patrick Lundeen spotted two men fornicating under a parking lot sign near one of Calgary’s busier intersections. Somewhat shocked, he wondered why these two had chosen to do this out in the open when they could just as well have gone into a back alley behind a dumpster and just gotten it on and over with. Lundeen’s inclination was to call the police to get them to put a stop to these shenanigans in case someone less tolerant should observe such behaviour. Why he didn’t call the morals squad is a mystery. What he did do (after watching for awhile) was to yell very loudly at the lovers, “Hey you guys! Shake your tail feathers and stop that right now!” The two copulators leaped up, their trousers and underpants tangled around their ankles, and somehow managed to scamper away into the night. Lundeen began chuckling to himself, slapping his hand against his thigh as people do when they have successfully finished a job.
Unlike many prognosticating artists, Patrick Lundeen is an artist who likes to finish jobs. As a result, he himself has been referred to by many as “some kind of job.” To support his art practice, his own employment has ranged from selling whoopee cushions, fake shit piles and vomit messes in a local hobby shop, to working in a dirty book store, to caring for the mentally challenged, all the while, miraculously taking care of himself. This later profession, which he refers to as “my lifelong commitment,” twins nicely with his position at the mental rehabilitation centre in that he piggy-backs the knowledge and experience gleaned from his clients there onto his studio practice and into his day-to-day existence.
Lundeen’s earlier paintings gave no quarter to issues of pre, current or post modernist thinking. ln fact, they gave no quarter to much of anything. The content of his earlier paintings such as Pakistani Garbage Collector, questioned the issue of what was allowed in terms of subject matter and resulted in endless confrontations between Lundeen and his more politically correct
Recently, Lundeen’s work has taken a turn that softens his previous enfant terrible reputation.
Unlike the masterfully painted, yet contentincorrect demeanour of the older work his latest oeuvre maintains its concern for the craft but has dropped its lubricatious toad of rancor and is layered with both technical nuance and gentler meaning.
On a cold and rainy evening in November,2OO2, I went to Lundeen’s Calgary studio to speak with him about these new developments.
At our only previous meeting, Lundeen had very openly told me about the public lovemaking incident he had witnessed. At the time, I was somewhat suspicious of his frankness and prior to my interview with him, I had been forewarned of his reputation and aversion (even hostiliV) to interviewers. As I rode the freight elevator up to hist studio in the trendy Belt Line district of Calgary I was somewhat apprehensive.
Upon being greeted by Lundeen’s young, attractive studio assistant, I was invited to take off my galoshes and raincoat and my nervousness was momentarily eased when she told me that I was fortunate: “Patrick is in a good mood today,” she said as she wobbled around in her four inch stiletto heels, all the while straightening her disheveled skirt She told me her name was Brandy and that she had been working for Patrick for about three months, doing mostly menial tasks like brewing him his tea in the morning, taking his clothes to the dry cleaners and performing other chores that, giggling, she referred to as “happy little fun things.”
“He is actually rather low maintenance you know” she assured me. “But he can be difficult, especially when questioned about his work.” My previous apprehension returned.
Brandy proceeded to offer me a seat on a brown leather sofa and poured me a glass of Ty Nant mineral water. Much to my relief, she informed me that it was all right to smoke. As she leaned over to light my cigarette, it was difficult not to stare at the ample cleavage that bulged from her Jean-Paul Gaultier blouse. I think she then said that Patrick was on a long distance call to Germany but would be out shortly. She politely excused herself so as to “get on about her tasks.” On one hand, I was sorry to see her leave but at the same time, I was relieved, as I felt my concentration for what was to come was paramount.
With the exception of the leather sofa, the only other pieces of furniture in the spacious loft were a tear-drop, Noguchi table piled high with various books and art catalogues, a giant flat-screen TV, as well as an elaborate stereo system with two of the biggest amps I have ever seen. (They even rivaled Brandy’s!) The music on the stereo was at a low level and was unfamiliar to me although I thought it might have been early, modern classical, possibly Webern or Berg.
As I flipped through the pile of catalogues, I saw that they ranged from a very large and obviously expensive book on Babylonian pub c bath tiles to a small, dog-eared one on the works of the contemporary German minimalist/conceptualist artist, Jopp Meinhard. ‘ithi e thumbing through the Meinhard catalogue, I noticed nurnerous notes scribbled in the margins which said things like “Not So!”, “Retrograde” and “????”.
Sitting there smoking. I could see that Lundeen appeared to have been working very hard. Fresh canvasses were everywhere – in storage racks, leaning against the walls, on numerous stainless
steel easels and even stacked in piles under the Noguchi table. One of them, Rainbow Bug Monster, scared me to death.
Shortly, Lundeen entered wearing blue Armani slacks, black Louis Vuitton military-styled boots and a torn t-shirt that inexplicably announced “Father Goose Rules.” His hair was slightly tousled in a Warren Beatty sort of way, his fingernails had obviously been freshly manicured and it appeared as though he may have had a slight blush of some kind of makeup on his high
cheekbones. Lundeen’s outward appearance is of a rather diminutive nature and, with the exception of his tattoos and the padlock on a rope hanging from his neck, is one that belies any
belligerence or pugnacity. He carries himself with assurance but with no hint of the acrimony that I had feared. This, along with Brandy’s previous assurance of his good mood, helped ease my
Lundeen politely apologized for keeping me waiting and asked if I wanted to get started with the interview. I asked him if I could first see some of the works he was planning to show at the Stride
Gallery. He told me that the ones on the easels were not finished and when I asked him about one of these (a portrait of someone who looked like a Biblical character) he informed me that its
working title was Snake Staff and that it was one of his religious paintings, but one that he didn’t want to discuss until it was finished. He then proceeded to bring several others out of the racks that he said were completed. Being still slightly nervous, I pretended to consider them for about ten minutes while feigning a sort of half-hearted enthusiasm.
Finally, I screwed up my courage and asked Lundeen if we could start the interview and would he mind if I turned on my tape recorder. He answered confidently, “Go right ahead. I have nothing to hide.”
JW: Patrick, (may I call you Patrick?)
PL: Actually, I prefer “Sir.” (Laughs) No, of course you can.
Patrick, your newer paintings seem to be a departure from your earlier work in that the content is not racially charged. That is partially true in that any evolution must be seen from the perspective of my observation of a gradual transformation within the dominant culture. The quixotic, politically incorrect nature of those earlier works was intended to marginalize modernist, liberal mores. They utilized critical resources of anomaly while calling attention to the subiugation of the disenfranchised.
With some of my new paintings such as Rainbow Bug Monster, The Tooth and Hash, I am introducing dialectical characters which attempt to represent all individual human conditions … at least as those conditions relate to my mundane, everyday experiences. (Laughs) While trying to accomplish this, it was necessary to circumvent the vernacular, reductive definitions and valuations of dominant modernist and post-modernist analysis. For those viewers who are unwilling to accommodate this point of view, I can only reply that their problem stems from their inability to recognize my iconographic semblances within a world of canonical euphemisms. I am not interested in polite scholarship but rather, in a form of articulation that calls attention to the muted voices ineffectually attempting to be heard over the din of a strategically self-serving, bourgeois proletariat.
But doesn’t this attitude seem a bit elitist and perhaps even somewhat self-serving in itself?
There is no doubt that I want to affirm my own selfish repertoire of prevailing ideology within both the archetypical and secondary genre, but at the same time, I know the audience will be stimulated to engage the paintings on whatever level they choose. My didactic intent does not preclude any ontological paradigms. Some people may not agree with the interpretations that I rule to be inadmissible but I have to point out that these interpretations might be predicated on certain misinformed paradigms and not on purely linguistic rationales and modal logic … something that I find, quite frankly, to be academic. Contingent on their particular political position, much of my audience thinks that theyare right… but personally, I think these presumptions are misinformed. I cannot control a third party’s assessment of what I do and as Chris Cran inadvertently pointed out in Dennis Hrubizna’s brilliant video Loved By Millions, once the work leaves the studio, the artist loses any semblance of authority.
lf that were the case, would you then say that you seem to have failed to communicate anysort of universal intent or, at best, have only presented your own very private and personal esoteric messages?
I don’t have a message per se. Besides, messages went out with Marshall Mcluhan’s “Phony Express.” And noq living in the cyber-world that Mcluhan somehow predicted, everything is so electronically garbled that any messages makes “Marshall ln Wonderland’s” looking glass seem as frosted over as a witch’s tit in Yellowknife. My new paintings try to expedite the defrosting of that McLuhanesque glass and in the process, reconstruct any cultural conditioning by responding both to the prevailing discourses of art and to the enshrinement of arbitrary closure on substantive and open inquiry.
I take exception with that Mad Hatter from Winnipeg when he said, “The medium is the message.” The Hatter’s cognition excludes any sort of ocular orientated concern, to say nothing of a concern for the narrative. ln no way should my strategy be equated with modes of exclusion. All of this may sound convoluted to you, but the intractabilities of my own perceptions are a result of my specific cognitive and aesthetic skills. So in a way then, you are saying that, “The message is the medium,” and that the “Less is more” Gropian construct plays very little, if any, role in your way of thinking. Actually, it was Meis who said, “Less is more.” But to reply to your observation, the message is unequivocal and fundamental to my practice. Modernist constructs have played absolutely no role whatsoever in what I do. As far as I am concerned, Bauhausian pedagogy not only set back architectural thinking for half a century, it also resulted in what I like to call the “muddling class gentrification of art education.” Art college did only a bit of harm to me but it did extensive and permanent damage to five or six generations of other young artists. ln my art
student days, I was lucky enough to escape with only minimal damage due to the fact that I spent most of my time in the library rather than in the studio classroom. For the life of me, I could not fathom the reasoning of doing contour drawing and balancing space or listening to the retrograde critiques of the teachers. Thank god, I could see the value of reading Kant and Hegel for their philosophical reasoning, Vilayanur Ramachandran for his insights into theories of cognition and Derrida and Heidegger in terms of their sagacity relating to metaphysics.
Having taken classes at the Alberta College of Art and Design, were any ol your studies there beneficial to your development as an artist and if so, or if not, would you care to share any advice you might have for younger emerging artists?
ln regards the f rst part of your question, as I just said, most of my student time was spent in the library, but in spite of this, ACAD still attempted to do me in as an artist. The College is staffed by certified lunatics. Some of my clients at the mental health place where I work have better insights than 90% of the teachers at that College. Let me tell you an anecdote that perhaps will illustrate what I am talking about.
Once, when I asked one of my teachers what she thought of the Hegelian construct of “inter-evolutionary defenses,” she squirmed around for a moment before seriously replying, “l’m a woman. I don’t follow football.” I mean, can you imagine!!!
In retrospect, I probably should have accepted one of the scholarship offers I received from Princeton and The University of Chicago because an academic atmosphere would have enabled me to get a real education instead of the cut-and-paste one I received at the Art College. About the only thing I can say in their favour is that at least they haven’t asked me to participate in any of their so-called “artrageous,” hair-brained, fashion-fiasco, fundraising projects. Nor, thank god, have they awarded me any gold medals or Awards of Excellence (!) that they seem to bestow on just about anybody the cat drags in. For example, one of my old teachers there recently got one of those awards. Now every time I turn around, I see this guy in the paper or on TV espousing the glories of The Alberta College of Art and Design. Well, la-de-da! This is a case of quid pro quo if I ever saw one. I still sort of respect the guy but in all honesty, I guess you could say he is now -loved by millions,” minus one.
As to the second part of your question, I can sadly say that young artists today don’t have much of a chancewhat with the dinosaurs that control art education, to say nothing of the money grubbing leeches who call themselves “art dealers,” the “feather your own nest” curators and those absolute rank amateurs who run around announcing themselves as “art consultants.” All of these wizened, “support system.” bloodsuckers are in collusion and only give a shit about the artists they themselves have sired, midwived or reared. They provide about as much support for an emerging artist as a jock strap does for lhe cajones of a Sicilian eunuch. And you know
what’s even worse? They seem to believe in a sort of “career abortion” because their own reputations have long since been relegated to the scrap heap of absolute irrelevance. These abortions effectively eliminate any potential competition to the broken down nags in their stables who, year after frickin’ year, feed high off the hog of both insipid corporate culture taste and the naive, upper-middle class attraction for schlock. These so-called “facilitators” crave to put out to pasture all non-conforming, emerging artists into, at best, a limbo of disregard and at worst, a glue factory of ignominious losers. Whew! I suppose I’m digging my own career grave when I rant like this … but it’s all true.
Younger artists should probably give up and quit making art because these self-appointed stable masters have erected a brick obstacle course of mindlessness and selfishness. Their “artquestrian” circuit is specifically designed to retard any “clear rounds” by emerging artists because its barriers are thick and unforgiving … much like my unit, you might say. The difference is, my unit makes soft, silky love while their wall shits hard, gritty bricks embossed with the letters “G.O.T.”
“GET OUTTA TOWN!” Look, maybe l’m getting a little hot under the collar. Could we change the subject?
Well, at the expense of igniting a fire under that collar, I was hoping to ask you iust one more related question.
OK, OK… shoot!
Have you yourself ever thought about teaching or of getting a job in an art-related field?
Well, as a matter of fact, l’ve already tried both. When I was at Alberta College of Art and Design, I attempted to improve a lot of my teachers’ drawing skills by suggesting a few tips to them. The only problem was that their liver-spotted hands shook so much that none of them could draw a straight line. They were so embarrassed that they got even with me by giving me Ds and Fs and I never did graduate.
As to a job in an art-related field, I once tried to get a position at an art gallery. I even made the short list, but when I went for my interview, the people there who were asking me questions were all drunk and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Needless to say, I wasn’t hired.
No, I don’t think I want to teach or work In any art situation other than my own.
At this point, Lundeen seemed to be getting somewhat agitated. I suggested we take a break He agreed and immediately rose and snapped his fingers and shouted something in what sounded like Cantonese. Brandy immediately appeared out of nowhere with a tray of French cheeses, oysters in the half shell, a bottle of Ch6teau Mouton-Rothschild and a glass of ginger ale. While I gulped down the wine, Lundeen sipped the ginger ale and shared the cheese and oysters with his assistant who, for some inexplicable reason, had changed into a fluorescent orange thong bikini. The food seemed to calm Lundeen down and after dismissing Brandy, he looked at me and said with a wink, “Nothing like oysters from New Bedford and cheese from Alsace while looking at a good ass. Now, where were we?”
JW: I’d like to backrack for a moment. Earlier, when you were talking about the McLuhanesque “frosted looking glass,” you mentioned “arbitrary closure.” lf I understand you correctly, dont you think that your insistence on this closure runs the risk of creating the existential dilemma that Sartre referred to as “no exit”?
Comparative literature scholars have proven Sartre, and for that matter. all Existentialists wrong on most counts. Don’t get me started on thls because it only makes me cranky. Suffice to say. Sartre is second only to Shakespeare as a misguided writer.
Although, the Bard did get it right once when he indirectly wrote about my work in the first four lines of Sonnet 137:
Thou blinde foole loue, what doest thou ta mine eyes,
That they behold and see not what they see:
They know what beautie is, see what it lyes,
Yet what the best is, take the worst to be.
lf I might ask then, who’s writing, it any, has influenced or informed your work?
The earlier works of Paul Whiteman have had some bearing. ln his Quartet For Rivington, he speaks of the problem of ‘doing theories instead of art.” This idea was widespread among the conceptualists in the 1970s, but I found that those who propagated this hypothesis didn’t go far enough. What I am trying to do is bring Whiteman’s concept of idea over insight full circle and in so doing, condition this antagonism so that I can reiterate the rights of individual imagination in a Foucauldean sort of way and thereby participate in a discursive construction of those interests as they serve the radical transformation of the institutions of bourgeois democracy, to say nothing of Algerian religions. I totally disagree with Chades Bolotofsky’s contention that content relies on an execution that secures a vivid meeting place between cognitive interests and the dialectic materialism of Althusserian aesthetics. I mean, Bolotofsky was only in it for the money now wasn’t he. (Laughs)
To get more specific, I was wondering if you’d care to c.omment on some of the works in your upcoming exhibition at the Stride Gallery?
First of all, to comment contextually on any one painting would be tantamount to generating falsehoods and to surrendering their unique abrasive anomalousness – something I refuse to do. However, at the risk of sounding like a hopeless romantic, I have to say that my new images devote their existence to issues of the three Ls: Love, Loss and Life. The American poet, Emily Dickinson said it best:
Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stfts the culprit,— Life.
Any accusations of my romanticism can be discounted because these new paintings are compositized to a degree that the accused, Life, is not the guilty one. As Dickinson’s poem suggests, it is the surgeons who bear the responsibility. And in the world of contemporary aft, the critics are those surgeons. But let me respond to your question in a non-contextual way. ln one of my religious paintings, Sometimes My Girlfriend Makes Me Cross, the allegory is obvious. lf the Christian symbol of the cross is a product of signification, then there is a chance that we gain knowledge of a reality starting out from appearances. An agnostic might respond to this image as a gang symbol or a prison tattoo. A Freudian might interpret it as an abstracted phallic shape with the accompanying text propping up the reverential erection. (Laughs) You, being a practicing Catholic, might make the sign of the cross or better yet, genuflect right in front of it. (Laughs)
I should also point out that the figuration in the work is not at all subservient to any sort of f___ing, ‘Kottmannesque” theory of the heroic. The meaning of any readable symbols is simply an accidental gesture to make vivid the complex relationships between the iconic and the non-signifier, ln the case of my painting, Sometimes My Girtfriend Makes Me Cross, the sexual considerations are probably a result my pentecostal upbringing. lts like the feeling of relief, redemption and renewal one gets after experiencing one’s first Holy Roller “altar call.”
Does much of your work derive from your actual personal experiences? Take for instance, the recent savage sex incident you witnessed in downtown Calgary.
Oh dear lordl (Laughs) I don’t know why I ever told you about that. I’m never going to hear the end of it. (Laughs) No, seriously, things like that never come into play as far as my paintings go. If they did, I would probably be accused of being a yellow journalist you seeks out sensation …something I would never stoop to. You see, I believe art should attempt to pantomime, not
theatricalize, actual events much like Goya did in his The Death of Count Orgaz where he freezes the scene in a moment of assiduous representation thus achieving a sort of fictive and theatrical pictorial depth, all the while miraculously maintaining what must have been equivocal dishonesty to the depths of his travail. My god, if I had decided to make a painting of the incident you refer to, I would’ve probably been tarred and feathered by the gay community or worse, castrated by a roving band of heterosexual vigilantes. (Laughs)
ln the painting The Crown, it seems to me that, at the very least, your image of a crown implies a kind of acknowledgement of class or hierarchy. If this is true, is the symbol of the crown appropriated as a reaction to your current situation?
First of all, the crown in my painting is not a “symbol” – it is a “sign.” That said, I’m not sure what “situation” you refer to? Are you talking about the fact that I am independantly wealthy and just happen to like to work at all these odd jobs that I have? Or, are you referring to the fact that my girlfriend is a descendent of Danish royalty?
What I am trying to get at is that the obsessive and baroque nature of The Crown seems to exude a sense of echelon or status and yet, at the same time, is tinged with a certain pessimism that might be tantamount to a psychosis bordering on an obsession with the contradiction of a pollyanistic or optimistic world view versus an Orwellian overview of external and internal conflict of which one has no control. Perhaps the circularity of an actual crown references the round shape in one of your other paintings —- the one entitled From Now On All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers.
I really don’t know what in the world you are talking about. Maybe you should take the advice Frank Stella gave when he spoke about interpreting paintings. He said: “Don’t imagine what is not there.” Or better yet, consider that line from the Shakespeare sonnet I quoted you earlier: “that they behold and see not what they see.”
Simply put, the painting From Now on Al My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers has nothing to do with the crown painting. From Now On All My Frignds Are Gonna Be Strangers is the title of a Merle Haggard song and my painting has nothing to do with “echelon” or Orwell. Your confusion over the circular forms in these two paintings can best be eased by a couple of lines from the haggard song: “They all use to love me. Now they all hate me.” ln other words, what comes around, goes around.
I see … I guess what you’re saying then is that “Every dog will have his day'” or *The chickens will come home to roost.”
I wouldn’t go so far as saying that. Neither Haggard nor myself is a dog or a chicken.
I didn’t quite mean it that way… perhaps we should get onto another tangent. Do any of your non-art jobs ever give you ideas or inspiration for any of your paintings?
Only once! The pervert lechers that shop at the magazine store where I work have nothing better to do than stand in the back aisles of the store, furtively flipping through porno. Once in a while they might buy something, but rarely ever. One time though, a very famous politician came in and started looking at the magazine, Slam Bang Big Mama. Unlike most of the sicko-browsers, he wasn’t at all sneaky about perusing this rag and this kind of surprised me because this particular eprson was so recognizable. Anyway, after finishing with Slam Bang Big Mama, he then started looking at an even worse one called Twats and Poon Tang. After a while, I got bored checking him out in the big circular mirror above my cash register and I went back to reading the latest issue of The Times Literary Supplement.
In about half an hour, he came to my counter with a bunch of magazines. The front of his pants appeared to be freshly strained. (At this point, Lundeen had begun to slur his words and I am not sure whether he meant “strained” or “stained.”) The pid $156 for 10 magazines, gave me a $10 tip and walked out. You know, I had voted for this quy in the last erection. (Lundeen had to have meant “election.”) Now, I am really glad I did because unlike the majority of politicians, he seemed quite at home with his degeneracy. So finally, the answer to you question is, yes, this one instance triggered the work I’ve titled “Itchy FInger”, the finger being analogous with … well … I think you can figure that one out for yourself … that is, if you really want to. (Laughs)
Incidentally, I am toying with the idea of titling my Stride exhibition “Itchy Finger, as this phrase sort of sums up what I think the substance of all these new paintings is all about —visceral … but in no way vague.
(Lundeen at this point began vigorously scratching some lower parts of his body. I pretended as best I could not to notice and continued our interview.)
JW: ln a way then, you seem to imply that your personal experiences sometimes free you from your reluctance to autobiography and as a result, you produce some works that defer to those experiences.
Well, I just said that now, didn’t l? And by the way, I don’t “imply” anything. I categorically and emphatically proclaim everything and I might add, I do so publicly. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, or was it that friend of his, the Marquis of Queensbury’s son… you know who I mean… that Lord Alfred What’s-His-Name. ln whichever case, one of those old British degenerates said back in 1895 something to the effect: “Publish and be damned!” (Laughs)
I know that you took a trip to Europe recently. When visiting the many museums there, did looking at all those old masters affect your overview of what creativity is, or what it should be?
Actually, I went to very few museums because most of my time was spent either in nightclubs or shopping. ln the few museums that I did manage to visit, I began to realize that the great masters of the past knew the differences between a kind of healthy decadence and the Wall Street obsession with “delivering the goods.” The one work
that affected me the most was not one of the famous masterpieces. Rather, it was a small Sixteenth Century engraving that I ran across in the Printkabinet al Der Kunstvagen in Stuttgart. lt was by an anonymous artist and was this incredibly detailed engraving of the flora and fauna of Lower Rumania. What profoundly struck me was that this particular artist had managed to capture with his or her burin, the essence of a forest in which the lush vegetation and the various animals’ reaction to that opulence points to their appreciation of the cornucopia that nature can provide. For me, this became a real eye opener and an extended metaphor that totally illustrates not only how times have changed, but also how society and geopolitical concerns have failed to recognize what little animals have known all along. A marvelous, marvelous work, and one that our so-called world leaders could learn from.
This brings up a point that I have been meaning to raise. As I mentioned earlier, there have been some accusations by some critics that your work is self-serving and decadent. These critics seem to be saying that like the world leaders you accuse, you yourself, have no apparent concern for societal responsibility. Do you think that artists are expected to attempt to fulfill roles that indicate a regard for such things as social injustice and political accountability?
I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that, but since you did I have to say, that although I can’t speak for other artists, all of my work is predicated on the premise that all good art is a catalyst and a broker for change, be that change social, economic or political. Let me elaborate: ln my earlier work, where I seemingly poke fun where fun should not be prodded, my intention was to call attention to certain stereotypes prevalent in society and in so doing, deflate those stereotypes to the point of their impotence. lf I failed to do this, it probably was due to my proclivity for overkill but I also lay part of the blame in the viewers’ laps in that they never take into consideration that these earlier works were totally absent of irony!
The foundation of everything I have ever done is composed on a bedrock of responsibility that critiques the prevailing systems of cognitive styles but more importantly, critiques aesthetic autonomy and social relevancevalue. The problem with art today is the intractable homogeneity that prevails and thus prevents any sort of cultural or linguistic “disarticulation” leading to a dialectical tension which. in turn, leads to obliqueness and opaqueness which then leapfrogs to what Kleinberg called the “disintegration of the reductive reciprocity of skeptical decent.” ln other words, the role of art cannot be predicated on any one person’s moral or amoral stance. Nor,
can it be based on trite stereotypes of artistic behaviour.
What I try to do is nothing more than attempt to make things that the informed viewer will love and appreciate for what they are, namely, absolute phenomenalogically charged retinal pictures that just happen to also carry a substantive intent. It’s as simple as that.
To diverge a bit I know that you are interested in music and I was wondering if there were any musicians, composers, or performers who you feel a kinship with and if so, do any of these influences affect your work?
That’s a very good question. But before I respond, let me go on the record by saying that just about the only music that gives me the willies is jazz violin and for the life of me, I don’t know why this is!
That said, I do have rather catholic musical tastes ranging in scope from Glenn Gould’s recording of Bach’s 1738, Well Tempered Clavier 2: Prelude and Fugue No. /3, to the 1985 album, Feed Us A Fetus by the Canadian band, DayGlo Abortions. I’m afraid it’s too complicated to explain the connection between these seemingly divergent sources but suffice it to say, there is a definite link.
My initial musical influence in music goes back to before I was born. My mother use to like to listen to the music coming out of West Philadelphia in the l950s. Fabian, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell were her three favourites. You’re probably old enough to remember that great Fabian song that started out:
I’m a man.
I spell M-A-N, man…
You see, I believe that certain prenatal experiences have a profound effect on one’s offspring and even though I hadn’t even been conceived when my Mom was listening to this stuff, I guess something clicked in the gene pool because later, this song became my own personal, private anthem. Fabian’s sense of rhythm and cadence somehow miraculously translated into my instinct for what I call “tempos and rhythms of visual compositions.” The two lines, “l’m a man. I spell M-A-N, man…” sort of sums up my situation don’t you think … at least that’s what Brandy tells me.
So, my mother’s interest in the “Brotherly Love Beat” played a large and influential bearing on my development. Then later, when I was about thirteen or so, I began listening to the spirituals of the late, great, “Hog Slop” MacKay and to the Delta blues of Bree “Bad Bird” Appelbee. Convoluted as it might sound, I also became interested in Schoenberg, particularly his iconoclastic works Erwantung of 1909 and Die gluckliche Hand of 1913. Alban Berg’s orchestral accompaniment for his great opera Wozzeck is not to be discounted either.
I also mentioned J.S. Bach. His contrapuntal experiments, along with Schoenberg’s and Berg’s atonality, are absolutely seminal to my formal concerns. DayGlo Abortions’ Feed Us A Fetus made me realize the freedom of content I was permitted. All of these musical precedents, diverse as they may seem, were some of the germinating agents in terms of where I find myself today.
These musical sources when combined with the prenatal exposure, vis a vis my mother’s phobia for the Philly-Beat, is probably why later, when I was a teenager, I loved to listen to Texaco’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on the radio and then at night, watch the reruns of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on TV. lmagine, listening to Tosca in the afternoon and Bobby Rydell at night! And I must tell you that on those nights, seeing all those hot, Bandstand kids whirling and gyrating around was a sight to behold … especially that sexy little Bunny Gibson! l’m sure you remember her. She was the one with the high cheekbones and the big pointy breasts. She wasso good-looking and talented that I think she might have gone on to be in some of those Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon.
Of course, there wasn’t a sandy beach in Lethbridge where I grew up, but I vividly remember many warm, starry nights with my then girlfriend, Martha on the banks of the muddy Old Man River. Now, you’ve got to realize, this was Lethbridge, not Malibu. And by any stretch of the imagination, Martha was no D-cupped Bunny Gibson. But, while Martha and I lay there in the mud, gazing up at the Milky Way, my thoughts would turn to Bunny which, in turn, really began to get my big dipper a-bobbin’. Mmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm.
At this point in our conversation, Lundeen again became agitated and this time, very animated. His eyes began rolling back into their sockets and his head started wobbling up and down. He began to quietly hum some melody that sounded vaguely familiar but was one that I could not pinpoint. He then stood up and his Vuitton-clad feet began rapidly tapping the floor in a manner that seemed an attempt to mimic Fred Astaire but seemed more like Ronald McDonald. While clattering away, he accidentally knocked his painting, Batman Wiener off its easel, which caused him to pause and mutter something about “Bruce Wayne’s wang”. He then started loudly singing a line from some idiotic tune and his Armani covered pelvis began doing a kind of twisty-like, thrust-pumping motion. “Turn me loose Father Goose, Turn me loose Father Goose,” he moaned over and over and over.
During what seemed an eternity but was probably only two or three minutes, this spectacle continued with Lundeen perspiring profusely and grinding his teeth, the corners of his mouth
becoming covered with bubbling, phosphorescent spittle.
I became somewhat alarmed. I too started sweating and found myself sinking lower and lower into the leather couch hoping, for god’s sake, that Brandy would reappear and do something to subdue the artist. Suddenly, as quickly as it had started, Lundeen stopped spinning and chanting and slowly approached me. He bent over and whispered into my ear in a stuttering voice, “Mma-mma-mma-my ol’ mmm-man ww-wanted to be an ldaho spud farmer and l’ma-lma-lma-l’m damned proud of it.” (lt is an acknowledged fact that Lundeen is the illegitimate son of a rotund jazz violinist from Montreal but I didn’t dare call him on this for fear of triggering another Saint Vituslike dance.)
As I was mopping my sweaty brow, Lundeen began to collect himself. He wiped off the spittle, which had begun to drip down his chin, pulled his trousers high above his waist, (almost up to his arm pits) ran a comb through his messed up hair and sat back down. Acting as if nothing unusual had happened and in a remarkably calm and controlled voice he asked, “Now then, what else do you want to know?”
My first thought was to terminate the interview then and there, but intuition told me that this might initiate another bizarre outburst, so I cautiously continued, trying to act as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
JW: Patrick did your growing up in rural Alberta have much of an effect on your development? And when did you decide to become an artist?
My father was a dry land, goose farmer but he always had this lifelong dream to import ldaho potatoes to see if they would do well in Southern Alberta. Although Dad never realized his fantasy, I thought that when I grew up, I would fulfill his dream to become the potato farmer he wanted to be. But then, my own dream was derailed one day at a local flea market where I stumbled on a book entitled The Art of Art by a man named Wilfred Andrew Stoltz. lt was only ten cents so I bought t it and after reading it, any thoughts of becoming a spud farmer ended.
Just think, for one thin dime I discovered that I had to become an artist. Money well spent, l’d say.
ln Stoltz’s book he points out, and I quote: “The art of creativity is an act that can only be described as a collusion between the overlapping range of archaic symbol systems and allegorical themes in an orthodoxy that diagrammatically connects various unisexual systems with certain epistolary resources, thereby sterilizing procedures that attempt to either subvert or, at the very least, minimize any attempt to mystify the travesties of an ideological mandate purporting to uphold the status quo and all the while, rebelling against all main stream religious, secular, economic, social, political and/or cosmological considerations.”
At the time, I was a teenage tabula rasa ard Stoltzs statement just blew me away. And more than anything else — more than Fabian, more than Bunny Gibson, more than that engraving in Stuttgart — Stoltz’s book inaugurated the journey down the road that I now travel. Stoltz could claim to be the trail boss on this expedition, but at the very least, I am the wagon master. lt is my responsibility to crack my big black aesthetic and conceptual bull whip and command to critics, art educators, dealers, connoisseurs, pundits of popular culture and yes, even to art writers like yourself: “Head yourselves up and herd yourselves out because, come hell, high water or horse shit, you all might as well join me as I wade through this messy world.”
I took the subtle hint and concluded the interview. I thanked Patrick and Brandy who had yet again reappeared — this time in white, vinyl disco-boots and a scanty, red negligee which prompted a blush on Lundeen’s cheeks and his response: “Brandy! You’re going to give our visitor a heart attack!”
Fearing iust that, I quickly put on my galoshes and raincoat, rode the elevator down stairs and “headed and herded” myself out into the messy world. After leaving Lundeen’s studio on that damp and chilly November night, I reflected back on both the conversation and the extraordinary antics that I had witnessed. I dismissed Lundeen’s momentary outbursts as simply a manifestation of his personal passion, preferring to think more about the paintings I had seen and the opinions he had expressed.
I couldn’t help but reflect that Lundeen’s seeming sophistry is all a ruse, as his reasoning is not misleading and his insights are not inexact and certainly not specious. lt is not my purpose to validate or interpret his new work. His responses to my questions did that far more succinctly than I could ever have dreamt of doing.
Lundeen’s obsessive new work diverges from his earlier in-your-face attitude in that they are more open-ended and prone to a myriad of interpretations of meaning and contemplation of visual nuance. Suffice to say, these recent works are done from tire mind and heart, all the while ignoring the temptation to appear relevant or intelligent.
But, like the artist himself, they are.
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