Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nate Kapnicky




This is Nate Kap's wall from the 2010 ISCA Caricature Convention. This year he took home 1st place for the categories "Best Exaggerated Style," and "Best Abstract Design." I think this is an unusual thing to happen. I'm not sure if it's the first time that the same artist took home both of these awards, but I bet it might be. I think his winning the abstract design category might possibly have something to do with a sort of stink that went down on Caricaturama 3000, which is a weekly competition on Facebook. All I remember of it is a few people saying, "I don't like abstract caricatures!!!" with much banging fist and broken English, and a few other people saying, "ARRRRGGG You don't understand!!" I do know that many from the ISCA crowd are among those who frequent the Caricaturama 3000 showdown, and I wager all this hooting about abstract versus...um not abstract solidified Nate's standing as an abstract caricaturist in the minds of many...or several...or at least enough to give him the most votes in this category.


But I might be wrong. But then I might be right. I have this general sort of feeling that when a lot of people think about abstract caricature or picture such a thing, it looks a bit like a Picasso: flat and geometric. Abstract caricature can have some depth to it, though. Would anybody say Turcios's caricature's aren't abstract. I don't think there can be a hard, fast rule as to what a caricature must have or not have to be classified as abstract , and this is because, technically, all caricature's are abstract.

The word "abstract" means existing as an idea, but not existing in reality. A painting of a face is one artist's idea of what that face looks like. It's not the actual face. The actual face is the actual face, actually. The face exists in reality, but the painting represents it. Sure the painting exists in reality also, but as an object: paint arranged on a board. Every painting on board can be classified as paint on a board, but if we wish to talk about and classify what the artist is representing, we must acknowledge that this representation is an idea and not reality itself and thus abstract.



photo of actual duck

And so I will, now, tell you that abstract painting is called abstract painting because it embraces the fact that any kind of representation is abstract and seeks to use it's existence as an idea as an opportunity for creativity rather than a limitation. I think the mentality is something like, "Why should I paint a duck? A duck already exists. My painting will never be as real as an actual duck. Why don't I paint something nobody's seen before...like some lines and squares and stuff." And that's where Modern Art comes from junior. Even if you don't like it or think you don't like it, the idea behind it still makes sense. Why not take advantage of the medium you are working in rather than allow yourself to be so limited by the fact that what you have is a palette of paint and what you want is a duck.



When a caricature is called abstract is when it embraces it's goals and limitations. It's goals are to show you what is funny about a given face. And it's limitations? Well, I would have to say they lie only within the mind and ability of the artist.

10 comments:

KEV said...

(applause)

Aaron said...

thank you thank you. you're far too kind.

Eric Goodwin said...

cool little essay branching off from Nate's work and awards. I thought it was interesting that I placed 3rd in those same 2 categories, as our walls were pretty different, but then some of my work was a bit more in the conventionally "flat" abstract vein than Nate's work.

Nate said...

interesting

Mr. Urzua said...

i think that it was funny that a lot of older people kept telling me through out the night that they had voted me for abstract....and ask if that was okay....i said "i guess...i more of a cartoon caricaturist." so even some confusion on my part.

in raliegh i placed both abstract design and cartoon for first and second

Andrea Gerstmann said...

I enjoyed that! Often people misuse the term abstract, the term existed before abstract art and it sure doesn't mean splashy stuff and shapes when you are talking about the abstract of a thesis or book.

I'm excited for when you explain postmodernism.

Aaron said...

Ooo. Postmodernism's tricky.

Jeff Pecina said...

Well written, Aaron. I hope Nate knows that he may get his Ben Affleck-lookin mug in a book one day in art history come 2050. Make a book already Nate!!

Jordan said...

yay! semiotics of representation! and a very nice explanation. I love this stuff =)

chris chUa! said...

I usually feel like I need to really digest stuff and think about and carefully consider a reply when smarty interesting thought provoking stuff is said. which you just said. that's what he said! ahem. um, but I'm just going to wing some thoughts that just popped into my head this time without thinking too much...which sounds stupid, but...so maybe the term "abstract" has the conotation with picasso SO much because of society or media or even basic vague alludances in school and the thought of Picasso to most normal folk= "weird stuff I don't understand" so the term abstract= weird stuff I don't understand. so when people that haven't been exposed to more wild stuff (and this varies from person to person) that breaks rules such as physics/perspective and logic regardless of anything. then that's what they call abstract.