A painter named CumWizard69420 is a minor sensation so far. The colorfully named character who came out of nowhere is currently garnering media fever with his painting exhibition at Cheim & Read in Chelsea. If I was a hard-working representational painter, I might be thinking of renaming myself to something like his IEatPoops! Or MilfManiac666 now.
I’m scratching my head wondering what CumWizard’s appearance on the scene says about this chaotic transitional period of art.
Here’s what you’ll see in the gallery: The paintings he mass-produces are modestly sized and done in a deskkilling, cartoonish, sleazy style, an unlikely amalgamation of the pictorial outputs of Grandma Moses and Jim Carrey. It’s not the worst painting ever, while still maintaining that look.
On the subject matter, there’s a preppy, smiling portrait of sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and one that renders a widely circulated photo of his spouse Ghislaine Maxwell giving Epstein a foot massage.Woody I have Allen. We have the dreaded Donald Trump. There’s Kanye West with the red MAGA hat.
There’s an obnoxious Caitlyn Jenner titled beautiful caitlyn jennerThere is a photo of Ellen DeGeneres with bloodshot eyes.
My last thought was about a talk show host being ousted, but this is a meme riff, take a clip of her crying about the police murder of Breonna Taylor, Note that I’ve captioned it again. start to get scared. ”
As for non-celebrities, their images convey a universal backlash. . CumWizard takes the idea of a “portrait of a nation” in a particularly elaborate and ironic direction.
There are mothers who are breastfeeding their babies while shooting heroin. A drawing of an elderly man with a walker whose pants have fallen off. A picture drawn from a widely derided clip of a woman howling in anguish as Trump takes office — a universal right-wing meme mocking the “snowflake library.”
There are many canvases of naked obese women rendered as lumpy, disfigured grotesques. One shows her with her mouth open and her eyes closed in her ecstasy as she lies against a red background and eats Crisco from her bucket. I am Girls Gotta Eat.
The artist told my colleague Annie Armstrong that his real name was Michael Clarke. “CumWizard69420” is just the first name that came to mind when I had to generate a handle for him online. He was an Uber Eats driver in his mid-twenties after he began posting his fried creations on the internet during the pandemic until his paintings became a compelling subject on his Instagram.He cites comedy podcasts as an influence come town— Indeed, he painted his paintings come town subreddit — Artists like Katherine Bradford, Keith Bordwee, Johnny Ryan. However, he is not very interested in contemporary art.
It’s not clear to me if Cheim & Read know what they’re getting at here. The show’s press release states, “These images are often unnerving, often grotesque, but also generously human, laced with affection and humor.” Then, quoting a line from a 1995 Hilton Als review of Diane Arbus (since “The Americans” is a counterpoint to the concurrent Arbus show at the same gallery), CumWizard’s painting ” At least I don’t feel exploitative because they are full of love and discipline.”
It’s hard to be objectively wrong when writing about art, but it’s objectively wrong.
It’s fair to say that these images are largely an exercise in ironic dehumanization that stems from viewing humanity through the lens of an Internet circus. “Google, Bing, Social He gets his inspiration from media,” CumWizard he tells Armstrong. His goal is to “be interesting online and elicit a reaction from people,” he said. include podcast.
why their south parkThe kind of vibe that everyone sucks for that makes it to the top of Instagram’s Discover Feed (where Cheim found us). Banning in outbursts to the brink of violating some standard is one of his ways of gaining attention. CumWizard’s sensibilities got him banned several times.One of the browns on her knees sucking a bunch of guys i feel goodor called sodomized Brown’s Get that thing and fuck my tight lil ass, I’m confused).
CumWizard introduces himself on his website with a photograph of a black teenager with Down syndrome sitting on a canvas.Image search says it’s a real person, but probably no Real CumWizard: His name is Rahmel and the photo is from a support group for children with Down Syndrome in Evansville, Indiana, circa 2013.
What is CumWizard’s “Love and Discipline” message? Based on his interview and pictorial output, I know idea CumWizard primarily tries to choose the most aggressive images possible to represent itself.
“The Americans” is a “Vibe Shift” painting exhibition. Seeing this kind of material in a Chelsea gallery would have been inconceivable for most of the last six years on social justice rhetoric and symbolic reckoning. After all, Trump has proven that Pepe the Frog’s vote can be a driving force for a real reaction.
But, as Mollie Fisher explained, the hyper-moral discourse of the “Great Awakening of Pop Culture,” which wrote about the precious, PSA-quality vibes of mainstream culture in this era, has become a contradiction of its own over time. started to collapse.
Businesses see social justice as a mass affluent consumption trend (see Brooklinen’s Revolution Begins Between the Sheets campaign), and observers associate it with cynical marketing. The punitive social media vigilantes of the past few years have created a situation where no one believes someone else’s social justice rhetoric. Constant anger over petty issues has made anger trivial (although, maybe I should stress, there are actually a lot of very serious things that deserve anger!)
I will not mention all the signs that the social justice consensus is crumbling. As Dean Kisick writes, one of the great precursors to the end of the “woke” moment was the rise of New York’s “downtown reactionary” scene. I think its consistency and influence are exaggerated by thirsty trendspotters. necessary It stands for “opposition to progressive values”. that is No doubt real reactionaries also go fishing in those waters.
But the depth of a subculture is determined by what it is defined against. The prevailing vibes of virtue signals during the #Resistance era were so shallow, promiscuous, and fragile that even if you didn’t do much during this time, you could be part of a taboo intellectual subculture. It looked like You can get a lot of mileage and get a lot of attention just by flouting liberal piety. replaced by creative personalities and beliefs of sorts.
If the mainstream atmosphere really changes, and the dominant culture ceases to be serious, sarcasm-averse, and anti-arousal-denying, most of the jokes produced in this contentious hothouse won’t be all that funny, I presume. , most of the art doesn’t seem all that interesting.
Dealer John Cham told colleague Annie Armstrong that what got him interested in CumWizard was his “brazen subject matter and a very clear and direct way of painting”. I’ve been going through CumWizard’s archives, and among so many paintings of celebrities wearing blackface, 9/11-themed comedy, and scat porn, there are memorable flashes of unhinged comedy. I agree with you (for example, Mission Impossible’s Tom Cruise Tries To Sneak, But He Shits Himself). There are even some mildly tender moments, usually drawn from movies he’s seen.
But would you call CumWizard’s canvas, which depicts a woman screaming after being gang-raped by a koala, a “brazen subject matter”? is”?again No Ticky No LaundryRendering Jack Nicholson’s Mob Boss Character deceased As a Chinese caricature of a buck tooth?again Down syndrome man tries to commit suicide with banana? again busty napalm girl? again trans kids coming from behind?
I hate “performative outrage” too. But for the most part all this is childish. Just kidding, this is offensive…and I’m saying it!
This is a back gallery show and the paintings cost thousands of dollars each. The truth is that neither I nor Wizard himself (according to what he told Armstrong) thinks he is about to soar to the top of fame and success. It’s hard to reconcile admirability with a sensibility that has an almost complete identity invested in it. There is no CumWizard AmEx card like the Kehinde Wiley and Julie Mehretu AmEx cards.
The fact that galleries deliberately misidentify utterly burned-out nihilism as spiteful humanism suggests that official art discourse is either unprepared or unable to assimilate this material. Tell me. That said, CumWizard here in Chelsea. So “The Americans” can be seen as a small sign that the “LOL nothing matters” mentality is pervasive much more than people say it out loud. That reality sits in the gallery like a stain on someone’s pants, and everyone at the party is too polite to point it out.
CumWizard69420, “The Americans” will be showing at Cheim & Read until March 18, 2023.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook.
Want to stay one step ahead in the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter for breaking news, eye-popping interviews, and sharp critical takes that propel conversations forward.