THE DEVIL'S HARP
2928 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609
The Devil’s Harp
Curated by Elwyn Palmerton
Arthur Johnson Weiss
Opening April 20, 2019, 7-10pm
April 20 - May 18
Gallery open Saturdays 1-5pm and by appointment
The Devil’s Harp explores the darker side of our current moment. With references to politics, pop culture and a nearly all-black color palette these artists plunge headlong into the negative energy and bad voodoo of the Trump-era Zeitgeist.
As Arthur Johnson Weiss exclaims in his video WOOF: ”all children are meant to be safe! All children are meant to loved” Taken out of context the phrase conjures the collective fears. The desire for safety - an almost primal need - which lies at the core our political attitudes, perhaps regardless of ideological persuasion. At times kitschy, luridly colorful, dark, and uncompromising, Johnson paints a picture of individual psychosis as a stand-in, reflection, or symptom of our society’s more general insanity and instability.
Mason Speed’s work operates similarly. He mines recognizable pop culture characters - Bart Simpson and the Batman logo reoccur in his drawings. His inconsistent and expressive line imbues these figures with an intense anxiety and angst. His execution - at turns scraggly, broken, or aggressive - gives these figures a pathos which is generally elided by the smooth finish of professional cartoons.
Dane Patterson’s work also makes overt reference to pop culture and politics. His piece “Object Study - Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Jacket, and a large Taxidermied Fish on a Stand” refer obliquely to Jackson’s disturbing history with young boys. However much we have enjoyed his music; the credibility of the allegations has, unavoidably, colored our understanding of his music.