(She-Clown on Black Velvet)
Found 03/2012, Thrift Land (Stassney and South First)
Black velvet painting has its origins in ancient Kashmir, where velvet was invented in 700-800 AD. The Museum is honored to have so many paintings with such a distinguished heritage.
(She-Clown) takes advantage of the medium of velvet, using reverse space to create the illusion of a bust. The subject appears to materialize from the substance of the black velvet, a distorted phantom suddenly appearing in our field of view. The distortions of the subject are suggestive of the distortions of the female form of the Surrealist movement in the 1930s, a leering mask more in line with the stylized features of Kabuki theater than face paint would allow. A slight incline of the torso gives the sense that the subject is positioned just above the viewer, looking downward; however, the head is presented face-forward, and the space above the clown positions the subject at eye level. (She-Clown) opens a dialog for those that either fear clowns or respect them, and lets us respond to the piece and its subject as both child and adult.
The true artist of (She-Clown) is unknown at this time. Artist Jose Ortiz may be one of the great masters of the medium, but this seems to be the work of an unknown artist, either named Jose or using that name to draw on Ortiz’s reputation.