Richard Storms: Jeepers Creepers
Considering the everyday, through photographs or internet searches, Richard Storms paints the commonplace, the overlooked and underappreciated vignettes out of daily routine. With the ever increasing plenitude of images pummeling us through multiple media sources, TV, computer screens, magazines, billboards, and cellphones everyone is a photographer and video artist and want to show us their world.
Storms captures some of these images and comes to grasp with them more slowly than they were originally presented, coming to terms with them and reinterpreting them through painting.
Over recent years, the artist’s gaze has narrowed focus onto the car culture of his generation. An era full of promise and innovation; machines at the forefront of this euphoria.
Richard Storms’ recent series of paintings of famous getaway cars from American movies from the 1960s to the 1990s portrays the good and bad of this era. Several of Storms’ “portraits” focus on the machine icons of the films. These films romanced and sold not only the American-engineered objects of desire, but also the culture of speed, the dream of escape on the open road, the masculine supremacy of being in the driver’s seat.
One painting, from Bullitt, is an inside look at the villain, the black Dodge Charger driven by the almost nameless ‘Phil’, who exists only as foil for the ‘hero’, the Ford Mustang GT, driven to ‘victory’ by Steve McQueen. Storms’ brushwork here is fast and dirty like the cars. Working with liquid paint and ratty brushes, leaving patches of bare canvas visible, the brush marks, and drips contribute to the tangible sense of reckless speed and danger; a stand in for rapid changes in society, an acceleration of the everyday.
The ultimate ‘muscle car’, the Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point, and the Ford Thunderbird convertible driven by two women on the run in Thelma and Louise, are partners in parable. Both tell a tale of a wild exciting ride, a run for freedom that dooms the drivers. In Thelma and Louise, the women try for agency by emulating the myth of their masculine forbears, but in the ultimate ‘buddy’ ending they hold hands as they drive into the blue, and over the edge of the Grand Canyon.
The fast cars painted by Richard Storms are visible reminders of the pop culture pretext of freedom, speed, and danger created in American film. In the paintings there is tension, from a distance these cars look cool, attractive, iconic, but when the viewer steps closer, in the disintegration of the images, in the rusty and dripping paint, the artist acknowledges how our culture’s intense relationship with cars can now only be looked at in the rear view mirror as we hurtle towards climate disaster.
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