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HACIENDA
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8008 Zürich

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Arthur Fink
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Fabian Marti
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KEITH BOADWEE
1989 – 2013
JUNE 12 - JULY 12 2014

Inside Out, Boy You Turn Me.

by Nicole Eisenman

“The aesthetics of the dung heap are the moral means against conformism, materialism and stupidity,” -Otto Muehl For a second, I thought it was John Lennon. But then, of course, we would never find John—even given his interest -via Yoko- in Happenings and Fluxus--lying on a table in a backyard, drinking his own urine. Keith Boadwee is an Ouroboros [in the flesh], a self-contained recycling system drinking his own piss, making a game out of it. It’s a joyous picture. He is willing to expose himself, to not just be naked but to compromise himself. He once said to me: “If you’re not willing to humiliate yourself, your art probably wont be any good.” Boadwee puts himself so far out there: he’s brave and he terrorizes the canon of western painting while respecting it enough to want to assert his own place in it. Asserting his place in the canon has literal repercussions. The body of the artist no longer simply makes the painting: it crosses over to the other side. The boundary between real world and paint world collapse as he pushes himself inside the canvas. No more of this frustrating separation! How many times have I wanted to defy physics and dive headlong in? Cross the 2D-3D boundary like Dick Van Dyke jumping into his sidewalk drawing. A lot of times. This desire to enter into the work completely lands Boadwee front and center in his paintings, here, the body of the canvas merges with the body of the artist; a union that underlines down-home style Tableau Vivants which yoke German expressionist stage craft with, for instance, the unbridled spontaneous performances of my 7-old daughter George. Once on the inside, we see Boadwee take on multiple art historical references. He makes a spoof of the solemn spiritualism of a Kirchner sunset while simultaneously high-fiving the artist; schools Rainer Fetting in his own rote style; obliterates O’Keeffe’s celebration of female sexuality (yick) by jamming his face into one of her signature poppys; and, with same strategy, levels Polke’s adored swans. A turn away, and we arrive simply at the weirdness of Boadwee as an Iris hugging itself. Back again we find echoes of Viennese Actionists such as Otto Muehl but with the troubling violence of works like "Degradation of a Venus" from 1963 eschewed. Boadwee journeys into the painting, but merely inhabiting this space does not put him close enough to the source! Boadwee can get closer, the paint moves closer to his anus, his butt cheeks become the ground on which to paint. This dark hole is the subject around which paint finds its order as Jasper John’s target or van Gogh’s Sunflower to name just a couple of examples of how else an anus can be put to use. Boadwee’s balls are restyled into a blobby hairpiece for Princess Jasmine or Swamie hat for Homer Simpson, finally paint is inserted into the artist’s body, complete symbiosis! The artist is painter/is painting, finally is a tube of paint! Boadwee is subject and object, maker and the made, a self-reflexive circle is complete. The body emerges from the painting in all its carnal bestiality, with stuff coming out of it (piss, paint) and stuff going into it (American flags). It is a messy and confessional body that cannibalizes itself.

Wait - did I mention that Boadwee is hilarious and uncompromising as he takes apart notions of taste and the giant lie of so called civility? This work is also about the pure joy of uninhibited expressive creativity coming from the place of radical queerness and sexual liberty. Yes, of course, it’s joyous, he’s saying “fuck you!” to everything that binds us into place. Like, for example, sexual prohibitions and inhibitions and any kind of role we get stuck playing that is hoisted upon us by a so called “moral” value system that is not our own. You can walk around squirting sunflowers out of your ass in Boadwee’s universe and the sun will bless the tip of your erect dick all the day long. As it should be.

<small>Image Credit: Michel Auder 1993</small>Image Credit: Michel Auder 1993