the late work of philip guston

Head and Bottle_300dpiFisun Güner at The Arts Desk:

Light. Light banishes the shadows where monsters lurk and where ghosts rattle their chains. “Give me some light, away!” cries the usurping king inHamlet as his murderous deed is exposed by the trickery of art. What guilt plagues and seizes his conscience, and yet Claudius, conflicted, cannot pray. He must, therefore, remain a captive among the ghosts and the monsters where no light may fall.

What did light mean for Philip Guston? Not what it means for most painters, nor for those seeking the redemptive light. The naked light bulb that pops up in so many of his paintings is both the interrogator’s tool and the hangman’s noose. These are what that repeated motif reminds us of. And what a world it illuminates for the burdened artist confined to his studio/cell where he too is held captive by ghosts. Those dumb one-eyed potato-heads and hooded Ku Klux Klan figures are both self-portraits of sorts; tragicomic figures in a schematic universe filled with symbolic objects like any Renaissance painting.

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