Who can deny the artistry and conceptual power of a muscle man pumping iron while a psychotic clown strangles a fellow circus performer? I know I can’t. I only just now understand what David Lynch meant when he screeched about “Crazy Clown Time.”
Last weekend, I discovered this aptly-titled illustration “Untitled (Clown attacking woman while muscle man watches)” at Ricco/Maresca Gallery’s excellent exhibition with an even better title–Pulp Drunk: Mexican Pulp Art.
Here at Filthy Dreams, we have never hid our ravenous and rabid love for mid-century refuse, particularly the pleasantly perverse world of queer pulp fiction novels. Containing a similarly sordid level of smut, Pulp Drunk certainly did not disappoint our trashy excitement.
A stand-out and refreshingly low art exhibition among the currently conservative Chelsea gallery shows, Pulp Drunk features a wide range illustrations from both known and unknown illustrators created during the 1960s and 1970s.
Much like the cheap filth filling newsstands in America in the mid-20th century, pulp fiction novels’ popularity also exploded below the border in Mexico. However, while looking at the illustrations presented in Pulp Drunk, the Mexican pulp fiction novels seem less sexually explicit than their American counterparts, trading lesbian prison fantasies for magical realism. Rather than Lesbians A-Go-Go or Skidrow Sweetie, pulp fiction originating from Mexico exudes a hallucinatory and psychedelic sense of surrealism.
Just look at the heroic figure of the…Catman(?). Can you say “mee-oow”? Maybe I’m tripping but it looks like someone’s got cat scratch fever!
With a heavy-handed sense of drama and camp (our two favorites!), the illustrations naturally lend themselves to a multitude of interpretations. From robots to a nebby invisible man to little green men startling a poor maid, the potential narratives contained within the captivating are endless.
For example, take the illustration of a woman in red running from the cops with a pig in her arms: Did she steal the pig? Is there a crime ring of sexy women stealing pigs? Is that the cop’s pet pig? Did the cop not realize the irony of having a pet pig? Why do I suddenly want bacon?
In addition to the utter hilarity of the illustrations themselves, particularly the hysterical facial expressions of the subjects, the illustrations–completed with tempera on board–are also just vibrant and beautiful pieces of art. Sure they’re trash, but they’re deftly rendered trash!
And really, what more could you want from art?!