James KonradU.S. b. 1943
Hostages #3 - The American Dream 88.0017
James Konrad is known for his meticulous craftsmanship and expertise in painting methods and materials. His interest in naturalistic painting led him, in the 1970s, to immerse himself in Old Master painting techniques and compositions. In the following decade, Konrad, inspired by Old Master compositions, sought in his paintings to convey metaphors of contemporary society. This pursuit led to a series of allegorical still-lifes that comprise the psychologically compelling Hostage series for which he is best known. In these works Konrad arranges various objects in a shallow stage-like space-a process that may take up to several months. He then paints from direct observation of the objects as they have been finally arranged. Tensions are established by the subtle positioning of opposing shapes, contours, and lines. A recurring motif in the series is the color chart/wheel, representing the transcendence of art. In Hostages #3, this is juxtaposed with children's toys, a bloodied taxidermy specimen, pink flamingo "yard art," an American flag, toy soldiers, and two "artworks" representing home and family: a photograph, and a child's drawing. Konrad's cool detachment paradoxically manages to convey a subtle yet powerful message about patriotism, consumerism, and American ideologies.
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