AARON ZIMMERMAN

"Boneless Turkey Overdrive" by Gary Panter and Christian Schumann



"Energy Regulation: A Review" NYArts Magazine Vol. 8 N.11(November/December 2003) pg.99.



            It is somewhere between independent comic characterizations, 1950's product iconography and psychedelic hallucinations that the collaborative work of Christian Schumann and Gary Panter at Sandra Gering Gallery rested. What a dream, what a mess, what fun.
            Panter and Schumann have mapped out a metaphoric brain tissue flooded with memories of characters from Krustie's Kitchen kids menus, Peter Saul's early work, Dan Clowes' ugly cast of average Americans, Cellular Biology for Dummies texts, mutations of Hanna-Barbera's finest and Good Housekeeping style guides from the 60's. Acid art to the hilt, this shit is obsessive, inventive, and coalescent. Pattern is as much a field of play as landscape. Garish color as much a creator of distinction between forms as size juxtaposition. Weird forms colliding and molding into characters straight out of "Eightball" then back into intestinal meanderings that telescope and flow behind and in front of icons whose origins seem rooted in something vaguely mid-20th century and Midwestern. It left me wanting to put on my swimming trunks and jump in.
            The only problem I have with these finely crafted pieces are that they are finely crafted. By using actual obscure cultural detritus or hallucinatory ideas about that detritus to its advantage they have successfully pulled me in. But the work is too neat for it's own good. Like if Darger had gotten therapy and had a legit art career, they play at 'Total Insanity' but are merely 'Pretty Fucked Up'. In other words they are too packaged and ready for sale; not raw and urgent enough to have a real edge.
            I'm all for noodling in details and modeling forms to give the impression of depth and space but the arrangements lack the immediacy and the askance-like quality of doodle that I've really appreciated from these guys separately in the past. Am I being too much a fan of the School of Basquiat here? Not really. I think if they were that messy with the vocabulary the work would falter just as slightly. That's right I said slightly. This is a paltry criticism leveled essentially because of conventional framing choices both in the composition and with the white wood bordered things they were placed in. But I'm just being picky.
            I've been following the work of these two artists for years; Panter since the Pee-Wee Herman sets and Schumann since the pre-Postmaster's days. Their worlds of excess separately have been an inspiration, a joy and a treat. To seeing them come together for this show added another layer of depth to the aforementioned feelings.