From “Donald Moffett: Blue (NY). About political abstraction
OK. I just previewed what I uploaded. The quality of these images is truly wretched. I’ll go to Kinko’s next week and scan the pages to higher resolution, I promise.
Throughout Moffett’s career he’s made politics and activism his focus.
The early work with Act Up and Gran Fury drew attention with intelligent rage – the propaganda collective made catchy phrases that might equally well have served the world of commercial advertising, for example “Silence=Death” or a poster of then president Ronald Reagan with the slogan “He kills me…” and made political and artistic statements with them. Links in this paragraph to Queer Cultural Center AIDS Graphics page and GLBTQ Culture AIDS Activism essay.
Moffett’s first painting show at Jay Gorney in NY, the 1996 “Report on Painting” consisted of pastel monochromes in enamel and oil, thick loops of paint like shag rugs and thin slices of the same enamel and oil mounted blade-like to the canvas. See below for an example of a similar painting. These were titled “Lot…” as I recall the numbers are based on the date of completion – although this doesn’t seem correct in the example I show.
Marc Foxx Gallery in LA showed some of these paintings in a 1997 group show “Anne Chu, Rachel Harrison, Donald Moffett and Jasmin Sian.” At the time the artist mentioned that he though of the various monochromes as “blood loops” and “flays” to bring attention to their closeness to the body and to the facts of death by AIDS/HIV.
In 2000 he showed a series of monochrome black and white paintings in “The Incremental Commandments” at Stephen Friedman in London and Marc Foxx here in LA. Having searched for a while I find that in London Moffett’s Incremental Commandments exhibition opening was accompanied by concert organist Dorothy Papadakos interpreting Chic’s disco anthem Le Freak while the audience sat in comfy chairs. Neat!
2002, “What Barbara Jordan Wore” at the Chicago MCA. Monochromes again, some with films of the sartorially splendid Texas congresswoman screened on them. Helpful review of the show by Fred Camper of the Chicago Reader here. For these paintings Moffett laid thin strings of enamel and oil on the canvas, as though loosely woven in a fabric.
One small drawing from that period that I found online at Kavi Gupta gallery consisted of two 8 x 10″ pieces of paper, one with the Boy Scout Hymn music and lyrics drawn in graphite and on the other were shaky, slightly curving weaves of khaki-colored paint. It looked as though the paint might be draped across a boy’s thigh. This drawing still breaks my heart to think of. It’s so powerful and so quiet. Within its modesty lies all the hate a child can muster when he’s well taught. Sorry I can’t find an image.
Update on Aug 17, 2011
Donald Moffett, part one: From “Donald Moffett: Blue (NY). About political abstraction
Donald Moffett, part two: Donald Moffett Blue (NY) redux
Exhibition opening on October 1, 2012 – Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver, Senior Curator at CAMH