Review: Apostasy by Super A

Thinkspace, December 12-January 2, 2021

“Skeletor” (2020) Acrylic on linen, 20″ × 30″

“The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.”-Oxford Languages

Apostasy, by Dutch artist Super A /Stefan Thelen, is one of the first slated exhibitions at Thinkspace Project’s new gallery.

These images are indebted to the act of wrapping, obfuscating and exposing. The history of art finds perpetual eroticism in forms simultaneously revealed and hidden; excitement pools in the act of almost seeing, in the frustration of quieted revelation. Super A wraps Stefan Thelen (himself) in a duel identity. He, like his art, is both hidden and seen.

“The Itchy & Scratchy Show”(2020) Acrylic on linen, 28″ × 34″

The works are palimpsest shrines, pristine painted illusions to Saturday morning cartoons and adolescence. American pop culture is a ribbon enveloping actuality, or what actuality is boiled down to. For example, The cartoon He-Man’s Skeletor wraps up a skull, Disney’s Big Bad Wolf a true wolf. 

Visual form as we know it in the natural world contains so many kinds of reality: action, emotion, sense, impulse, impression, association. One thing is never one thing. It is the task of the artist to reveal, to peel the proverbial onion of subjectivity aroused by reality. Super A’s act of apostasy is refusing the surface identity prescribed by a culture that equates maturity with the renunciation of itself from myth and metaphor, scrubbing away magic and ceremony and childhood. The paintings are bold and rich, but the repetition of wrapping one “thing” in only one “ribbon” might be a limiting tendency, a minor criticism for a beautifully realized body of work. 

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” (2020), Acrylic on linen, 71″ × 51″

Contemporary America, as I learned it in the suburbs of West Texas, fears the perpetual layers of the real, the depth of infinity sinking and rising from every life and object. It is in this animism one reveals dream to free themselves from the bonds of institution- church and state, god and country. Institutions maintain control by halting personal and cultural evolution. By their very nature they resist change; change demands new order. The integrated self cannot be compartmentalized, the goal of the oppressor is to cut the Möbius strip, the task of the artist is to heal it.

“Fata Morgana” (2020), Acrylic on linen, 32″ × 40″

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