Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Long before there was a 280 or even 140 character text box that allowed each of us to blast our witty little commentaries on life out to the world, Cary Leibowitz was "tweeting" on canvas and odd shaped scraps of wood. Making up the majority of his catalogue are these hand-painted statements, pie charts denoting emotional percentages, or familiar objects rebranded to fit Cary's aesthetic. The work has a personality for sure. While lacking the traditional idea of talent as the artistic signature. There is evidence of a singular identity repeated. The language used is unique; subtle twists on a common phrases. Relatable, digestible, leading. Leading to Cary's experiences. An introduction to Cary, but an awkward one. One you remember. The kind where the handshake misses or one hand is sweaty. A modern poet. The words are the art. Written in a way, in which their form takes on personality. Thoughts trail off literally to the side of the panel. Points are made, the line-weight thickens. The process was an act of passion on a topic when inspiration struck. At the same time you could imagine Cary and a team of assistants slowly scouring through thesaurus' looking for just the right words. Then writing the statement in pencil first to get the spacing just right. Slowly coloring in each line. Constructed rather than organic. Feeling that is fabricated...That's not how they were made but I can't stop from wondering.
Once I saw a video of painter David Salle saying,
"A good painting painting should:
1.) appeal to you on first view
2.) force you to spend time thinking and looking around it, figuring it out
3.) appeal to you on the second view
Obviously I am paraphrasing and Salle said this much more eloquent but I live by this idea. When looking at art. Leibowitz worked checks every box. First glance, it's big, it's bright, it's fun. Spend 4 hrs reading each text, think about it chuckle. All along amassing a knowledge and understanding of Cary and how he views the world and life and relationships. Then right before you leave turn around to the whole room and, it's big, it's bright, its, fun.
I have always been a fan of humor. Not the let's laugh together humor. More like me laughing at others. When you walk in a room full of Leibowitz work, the initial response is, "I am the but of a joke." There are people watching me right now waiting for me to pull some deep meaning away from this work only to pull the rug out from under me. Its is fun to look at and I can gathered meaning from the words, but am I supposed to. It is in a gallery. Not on a bumper sticker. Isn't this what I am supposed to do? Look and think? Spending time with the work, no one jumps out to yell, "gotchya" or "look at this fucking idiot taking this seriously." I like the work. It seems authentic. But maybe Cary is just telling a joke, the art market is the substance and I am the butt.