My surrealist art

Albany’s Opalka Gallery (part of Sage College) hosts occasional “Pecha Kucha” nights. A wonderful event, with a bunch of presenters each talking about a series of 20 slides, each screened for 20 seconds. I previously did one about my love affair with numismatics. More recently, my surrealist art. It’s a challenge to time the patter to the progression of slides. Also, taking pictures of pictures turns out to be hard; balancing brightness and color was problematical. But here are my slides, coupled with my verbiage about each:

When I was 13, my mom saw this painting she liked in a friend’s house. I said if you buy me paints, I’ll copy it for you. So this became my first real painting. That was in 1961, and now it’s hanging in my house. For a while I did such normal-type pictures.

Then, in my early twenties, I became captivated by surrealism. So I started doing paintings like this, from my own imagination. Its title is “Christmas Toys.” Surrealist pictures, you know, are supposed to have enigmatic titles.

My favorite artist was the Belgian Rene Magritte. And as an homage, I did make this one copy of a painting of his, titled “Collective Invention.” It has also been called “The Practical Man’s Mermaid.” You see, the usual mermaid has . . . well, never mind.


I had a thing for doing paintings with an architectural flavor. You might see something familiar about this scene. But I titled it, “The Temple at Naddegomra.”  Which was the name of a city in a fantasy novel I was writing.

This next one is called “Cold Street.” I exhibited some paintings at the first modern Pinksterfest in 1972, and sold one or two. There was a gal who set up next to me, also with paintings. Hers I didn’t much like. But nevertheless, we wound up leaving the show together, which was nice.


Now this is not a painting, it’s a sculpture. Again you see my architectural proclivity. By the way, this was not photographed in dramatic lighting; I painted it that way, in black and white. Really so fantastically clever, no?


And then I thought the sculpture was so absolutely wonderful that I also made a painting of it. Call it synergy between two art forms. Or maybe incestuous or something. But it’s not stealing if you steal from yourself.


Here is another sculpture. These were made with wood scraps, basically because I didn’t want to throw them away. This one is called “The City of God.” Somehow that was the title it whispered to me. Even though I’m actually an atheist.





And here is the painting. I did actually have a show once, in a local art gallery. But eventually I realized what was really going on with that: the gallery owner just wanted to get into my pants. So much for my art.






But I was really only doing this for my own amusement anyway, I had no serious artistic pretensions or ambitions. I wasn’t a starving artist, I was working as a lawyer. Here is one more sculpture, this one was done with wood and plaster.


And, surprise, here is the painting. This is the last of these pairings, I promise. On this one, as you can see, I added a little something. This picture hangs in my office, but not where it’s staring at me all day. The title is “Portrait of the Artist as a Piece of Wood.”


I did sometimes utilize photos. I came across this striking photo of a rock, or maybe it’s an iceberg. And it was just crying out to have that red globe added. I think this picture really shows a strong Magritte influence. The title is “Thing in the Sky.”






This was also from a photograph, a very famous one, by Edward Weston, of a green pepper. The evocation of a human nude was so obvious, I decided to play on that by painting it in fleshy tones. Take particular note of the bottom right part of the image.





So then I later came across this other photo in which I saw a close affinity with Weston’s pepper. So I painted this as a companion piece, and of course for complementarity, this one I did in green tones.

To evoke green peppers, get it?




Now, the next one I titled “Night Watch,” although it has nothing in common with the famous Rembrandt picture with that title. But I thought the title was fitting anyway. To appreciate this picture properly, you should bend your head down to the left.


But never mind, here, I’ve done it for you. The wonders of technology. By the way, all this stuff was done almost half a century ago. I basically stopped doing art because I was devoting more time to my writing instead. Not that that was a huge success either.





Anyhow, I also had a fascination with optical illusion art. Here you see it combined with my architectural fetish. Look carefully at this picture, what is depicted is a nonsense construction, that could not be built.


This next one is titled “Bas Relief in Four Planes.” Actually it depends how you look at it, you can see two planes, or three, or four, with features either in relief or sunken. Generally Democrats can see three or four planes, Republicans only two.


And on this next one, I took it to the next level by adding double symmetry: the picture is identical both upside down and in mirror image. That was actually very tricky to work out. The title is “Bathroom Tile Design.”


And, finally, something a bit different. A woman crucified to her own erogenous zones. Some profound symbolism there, of course, though I’m not sure exactly what it means. Maybe I had issues. But an artist doesn’t have to explain his paintings, the meaning is left up to the viewer.

One Response to “My surrealist art”

  1. wolfgang Says:

    Ha Ha Ha Frank. Great stuff! Magritte is one of my favorite artists as well. You are actually quite good! I think that besides having a good eye, you also view the world of art with a sort of humorous detachment. Bravo!

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