Galloping horses, blood orange sunsets, dusty cowboys - you can almost feel the rising heat from the sun-warmed earth. Billy Schenck has a definitive flair for highlighting the drama, and evoking the action of classic Westerns along with their corresponding mythology. The American Frontier holds a special place in our nation’s history, as well as in our imaginations. JoAnne Artman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Billy Schenck, capturing the persevering nature of the myths and dreams of the Old West.
Schenck’s work is not only cinematic in scope; it is also grounded in technique and style. His iconic, reductive approach is reminiscent of the color planes used in early computer graphics, establishing a visual dialogue between the straightforward subject matter and the more nuanced space of the rendering. The textual element of the comic book-inspired word bubbles is of equal importance to the meaning of each piece, often serving to either undermine or establish the guiding ambitions of the characters’ psyche.
In subject, Schenck goes for the iconic imagery of the Wild, Wild West - cowboys and Indians, sunsets and gunfire. Many of the scenes are a cheeky look at both the history of the American Frontier, as well as the established perceptions through the lens of contemporary popular culture, with a heavy dose of exaggerated passion and romance. The scenes pictured are at times comical, and at others, profound. Schenck plays up the ambiguity between his villains and heroes, underscoring the duality of human nature, a central theme in his work.