Post Card Diaries: The Visual Art of Mark Mothersbaugh
Most artists are forever engaged in the ancient tug-of-war between style and substance. Not Mark Mothersbaugh. In his visual art, the Akron-born Devo singer lets style win every time. Only rarely in this traveling show of prints -- which incorporate elements from the postcards Mothersbaugh maniacally collects -- does he make serious statements or aesthetic experiments. But the images have style -- namely that dusty, yellowed look of outdated textbooks. The medium too is arresting: thick, cottony paper, drawn over with pencil and a watercolor-like ink that dries in layers. And whatever Mothersbaugh lacks in depth, he makes up for in entertainment value. Consider "Crying Time at Happy Hour," in which a Tin-Man character holding a glass frowns bitterly inside a postcard framed by the word "Poison." Pure random hilarity. "Bring 'Em in Like This, Drive 'Em Home Like This," meanwhile, is a collection of innocent postcards rendered raunchy by explicitly sexual doodling. But while the bulk of the work is substance-free, Mothersbaugh is best in works like "Weapon of No Destruction," a humorous critique of the Iraq debacle. In this faded, drab-hued scene, a vaguely Asian man looks over a bizarre contraption -- a cross between a stock-ticker and a dialysis machine? -- that's obviously nothing of concern. Yet the man seems genuinely surprised and confused, even a little disappointed, like a president who imagined it a cause for war.
More images can be found on: www.mutatovisual.com/html/reports/asterisk_07/asterisk07.html