"Smart Phone Collage Paintings"

The idea for these collage paintings began, by coincidence, just a few days before the 2016 presidential election, as a plan to supplement an upcoming exhibit of sculptural work, with some new drawings and paintings. This exhibit, which was to feature wooden “Dummy Smart Phones”, created in 2015, never materialized, but I nonetheless continued to create and develop the collage paintings. The common underlying element of both the wooden phones and the collages are the magazine cut out “screens” which have as their basic structure a 3 ½” by 2” dimension, in order to mimic the dimension of an iPhone screen. The process for creating these screens is simply to draw a grid on the cover of any magazine and cut through the magazine. Each magazine then produces hundreds of screens, most of which are rejected, the best of which are accidental compositions that are created by the chance orientation of the grid on to the particular magazine’s layout, design, and subject matter.
With the wooden “Dummy Smart Phones”, I had created a limited palette of only red and white phones in order to suggest a subdued pageantry, without the obvious connotations that would be associated with red, white and blue phones. Here the “personal hand held device” (“Singularity-like” extension of one’s body) became slightly suggestive as a dual coded identifier. Very quickly, post-election, with my collage paintings I embraced painting blue phones alongside red phones, ushering in a more overt reference to American politics. By painting in and around the collage screens I could open up the narrative beyond the mere dogma of political discourse and engage deeper issues relating to technology and the larger cultural phenomenon of inter-connectivity and human experience. The collage “screen”, for me, is both an identifying device (mirror) for the viewer and a window in to the larger media sources that produce standard visual stimuli designed to engage and seduce. Absent the dynamics of electronics and interactivity, the collages then allow for a more resonant contemplation of content and form through the experience of static art.

Kenny Cole January 2017