Art is a powerful tool, offering as it dos the ability for many things from extraordinary creativity, self-expression through to hard-hitting social and political commentary. In this latter regard, art has the ability to prick our conscience and force us, often quite unexpectedly, to confront thoughts and reactions we might otherwise want to try to avoid -and it can also of a means to express pent-up feelings and work through concern and fears. It can thus be both challenging for the audience and cathartic for the artist.
Such is the case with America The Crumbling, an exhibition of visually stunning and socially expressive paintings by Chuck Clip, which opened on July 7th, 2022 at the Kondor Arts Centre, operated and curated by Hermes Kondor. Chuck has, in recent years, perhaps been best known for hosting and promoting art in Second Life through his Sinful Retreat regions or for providing music and entertainment as DJ Matrix. However, he is also a 2D and 3D artist, and with America The Crumbling he returns to theme exhibitions of his own work in-world for the first time in eight years.
Described as being intended to “shine a light on society in America” that is “colourful, disturbing, maybe even offensive”, America The Crumbling tackles head-on the rising threats to democracy and personal freedoms that are being witnessed both in America and around the world, in paintings that are intensely evocative and a veritable tour de force of an artist’s ability to convey thoughts and feelings through the curation of a specific approach to his paintings and the use of a thematic palette (notably the use of red, white and blue both as colours and tones) to convey his sentiments.
From the militarization of the police (which is actually the root concern of the Defund the Police movement, rather than an outright attempt to strip police forces of their abilities to perform their core functions, as some pundits would like people to believe), through the wholesale assault on democracy (most visibly the attempted January 6th, 2020, insurrection in the United States and also the war in the Ukraine), to the more “subtle” attacks on rights and freedoms such as the persistent assault on social care in the US and the erosion of the traditional barrier between church and state that has allowed a radical religious right to embark on what could well become a wholesale assault on the individual rights of those they deem as undeserving of such rights.
As the introductory notes point out, some of these paintings could well outrage some – but I would suspect those who do react so might not full appreciate the existential tripartite threat the American Experiment currently faces politically, religiously and even through its own judicial system.
For my part, I can only admire Chuck’s ability to challenge and evoke through images that are first and foremost expressions of art, and which do not, for the most part, belabour their point, but work far more subtly: Liberty on her sick bed; the splash of yellow in an otherwise monochrome piece that points to the source of the referenced “Evil”, and so on. Which is not to say Chuck has tried to wrap his comments in a “softness” of presentation: his pieces on the state of US policing pull no punches, whilst And the Magats’ Red Glare… carries an emotional power that can result in the sting of tears being felt behind the eyes.
Richly presented and layered, America The Crumbling is a genuinely startling and evocative presentation and not one to be missed.
- America The Crumbling, Kondor Art Centre (Waka, rated Moderate)