Noah Becker's paintings are impossible to "pin down", as it were. The expression of "pin down" is apt: many of Mr. Becker's works, representing "floating" or "lost" continents adrift in the clouds, resemble not dioramas so much as individual butterflies from a collection, suspended in the ether. And each butterfly, if you will, contains all of the wonder and beauty (and, of course, being "pinned down" and dead, all of the horror) of the entire world. Many of Mr. Becker's paintings are layered, in the following sense: each subject matter occupies different hierarchies. "The House of Ill Fame" depicts the bare skeletal structure of a two-story house, in fact. Inhabiting each steppe is a wide assortment of characters, each playing a role along their respective echelon. These instances of individuals adorn each plateau. Each individual exists irrespective of the others encircling him; hence the "refrigerator door" effect of these scattered, individual "snapshots".
The thing I can't keep myself from honing in on, however, is the very environment these "lost continents" or "butterflies" hang in. Most of the works show self-enclosed worlds, or, rather, countries, all floating in the clouds. Quite literally, Noah Becker's characters all have their "heads in the clouds". So, what does this say about Mr. Becker's Self Portrait? This is the only piece out of all of his work in which the "floating continent" subject is suspended in the vastness of starless space—an entirely black background. If Noah's characters are all meteorologists, does this make Noah an astronaut? There is another subject I'd feel remiss if I didn't toss it onto the table at this point: the notion in Mr. Becker's paintings of 'underground'. In several of his works, the bottom tier is usually either "hell" or at least "purgatory", to my eyes. In "Oktoberfest" it is the underground well, being sipped through a straw by a chunk of the land above. In "Realm" (20" x 24", circular), the bottommost tier contains similarities to the world above, subject-wise. The only difference is that in that underground place, it's all taking place at night. In another "Realm" (24" x 36", rectangular) the underground is literally hell, populated by a demon and several jack-o-lanterns.
Put straight in psychoanalytic terms, these lower steppes indicate nothing less than the subconscious, the seething underbelly, the Freudian id. Do they feed the energy, the sunshine, indeed the atmosphere and clouds, to the world above? It would make sense that a bottomless sea of black surrounds the abovementioned "Self Portrait": there is no lower tier of "hell" represented here, no Freudian id, no Jungian "collective unconscious".
Noah Becker's work will be on show in the forthcoming exhibition "How Soon is Now" opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery Feb 7th to May 3rd 2009. For media or other info regarding Mr. Becker's paintings contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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