Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Art at Film Forum: Llyn Foulkes One Man Band
Llyn Foulkes and Sol Lewitt might be quite dissimilar, but they both present
challenges to exhibit. While Lewitt’s installations frequently come with highly
detailed, labor-intensive instructions, Foulkes’ collage-paintings often have
to be ripped out of the artist’s obsessive-compulsive hands. Viewers will watch
Foulkes mount a comeback bid (or two) for the acclaim that has largely eluded
him, while demonstrating much of the eccentricity that had held him back in
Tamar Halpern & Chris Quilty’s Llyn
Foulkes One Man Band (trailer
opens this Wednesday at Film Forum.
a young artist, Foulkes looked be well on his way, even though he never fit
easily into an accepted movement or category. Unfortunately, a few blunt-spoken
words got him thrown out of the prestigious Ferus Gallery, dramatically setting
back his career. Indeed, Foulkes has often been his own worst enemy, as Halpern
& Quilty thoroughly document. Preparing for two potentially game changing
exhibitions, Foulkes commits to completing his seven-years-in-the-making painting-construct
somewhat aptly titled The Lost Frontier.
Later, he also agrees to take another stab at finishing the eighteen year-old The Awakening, featuring the second wife
whom has long since divorced Foulkes.
Foulkes’ Columbo-like approach to painting (“wait, just one more thing”) is a flat-out
painful experience. Fortunately, it is considerably more enjoyable to watch him
play “The Machine,” a drum kit augmented with marimbas and bicycle horns.
Foulkes can in fact get quite a tune out of it, but there is still a high
degree of performance art to his musical performances. Foulkes nearly hit the
big time with The Machine as well, but ever so shockingly, he managed to
sabotage his golden Tonight Show opportunity.
Regardless, it is still cool to hear him jam on it.
their credit, Halpern & Quilty committed years to One Man Band, capturing some of Foulkes’ most self-destructive
moments along with the musical mischief. It is clear they have developed a
mutual trust, but they never ignore his career-hampering excesses. Wisely, they
are not overly concerned with Foulkes’ political art, aside from his near
pathological obsession with Disney, manifesting in some rather gruesome depictions
of poor Mickey Mouse.
There are a whole lot of cautionary lessons to
be gleaned from One Man Band. At his
best, Foulkes is also a rather interesting fellow to spend time with. At his
worst, he represents the artistic temperament at its most dysfunctional. It is
certainly a balanced portrait, more messily engaging than the Sol Lewitt
documentary that Film Forum has programmed with it as a separate-admission
double feature. Recommended for fans of Foulkes and/or The Machine, Llyn Foulkes One Man Band opens this Wednesday
(5/7) in New York.
Labels: Documentary, Llyn Foulkes