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art and life…


hitting Brussels with a big new show…


As Michel Butor recalls in Les mots dans la peinture: “ bygone days it was said that poets painted with words”. And indeed David Kramer, after his training as painter and sculptor, cultivated a close interest in poetry. Words ended up inextricably integrating themselves within his graphic oeuvre, to the point of creating a sort of hybrid, mid-way between the plastic arts and literature. Narrative is in question here, when he incorporates typed text with his images, with disillusion and irony ever at the fore.

An extract: “You know, if I could just go back and have some of the money back that I blew on beer and cigarettes over the years, I’d probably be a millionaire. Man, I wish I hadn’t been so wasteful. But you know, if I could somehow get all of that money back, I’d just go and blow it all over again.” The full text is centered on money matters, and to illustrate this (or contrarily, is the text doing the illustrating), Kramer furnishes the simple portrait of a young couple, seemingly drawn from a 70’s cigarette ad (she’s smoking, he’s standing back). Another text, handwritten, frames the image: “If I could go back and change a few things, I would… But I am not sure if the things I aspire for ever really existed, anyway.” The rapport between the two texts is clear, while that between text and image is less so. Cigarettes? But what about the beers… Other works introduce a more direct relationship between word and picture: a lit cigarette burning in an ashtray, with the text proclaiming that all the cigarettes smoked by the artist, if put end-to-end, would cover the distance of a marathon.

In the description of his philosophy of life, David Kramer’s favorite conjunction is the word “but”: things could be better, but they are what they are; or, things might change, but does that mean for the better? Ironic, bittersweet, inhabited by a New York-Jewish sense of humor, the work of David Kramer uses text and image to bring us those little (self) reflections that flash through all our heads at one moment or other during the course of the day. His illustrations, harking back to stereotypes peddled by ad agencies during the golden 60’s and 70’s (less golden, but anyway..), make us consider to what point the notion of happiness, as soon as it’s used to sell a product, a concept or a style, becomes relative. And despite his assertion that “… In a perfect world, I would be one happy mother fucker,” he will forgive us if we continue to have our doubts.

now on view at Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels — through 10.30.10…


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