The Duke

The Duke

November 2014

Artist: Paul Gerard Somers

Industrial Carpet, Felt, Saw Blades, Found Objects, and Digital Iron-On Prints

“The Duke” is richly layered, both in medium and in symbolism. The striking iconography of the piece is evocative of some sort of ancient artifact built for ritual worship, tethered in the air like the remnants of some ancient crucifixion. Upon closer examination we see layers of sports objects and a type logo of the same ilk. Here, the viewer is presented with the dichotomy inherent in hero worship and the narrow spance between being raised up and being strung up. A commentary on the vulture-like entertainment media powered more and more by schadenfreude. The juxtaposition of this relic and the communication lines seems to comment on the decay that technology has wrought on our live and modern culture—perhaps we’ve destroyed the ancient values and traditions, which once defined our humanity, with the loss of human connection through television and social media.

Artist statement:

“My work is based on a personal investigation of societal institutions, rituals and the exploration of their influence on our culture. I am interested in examining automatic and collective beliefs and how they impact and shape individual behaviors.

My work evokes memories and feelings of childhood. I question the boundaries of masculinity within contemporary society and if and when the toys must be put away. Often times my work resides in the realm of the pathetic. I celebrate the reject and the dysfunctional, a reflection of a part of us. I want to examine closer the disregarded and find beauty in the disenfranchised.

I am attracted both mentally and aesthetically to the proving grounds of manhood, the court, the mat, the racetrack, and the field. These grounds are sectioned off in our world as the ritualistic and sacred arenas to partake in battles to the death, places to kill boyhood by becoming a man. I conjure the memory of the nervousness, the smell and loud sounds of clocks and buzzers, the cheering and screaming. I can feel the mat, burning skin and the smacking sound of bone on the hardwood gym floor. I remember the excitement of the colors, bright lights, the taste of blood in my mouth, the victory, and the loss.

Through the disjointed curatorial groupings of objects, material choices and the finishes applied to them, these memories and experiences reside in my work.”

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