Hard Dicks and Failure
by Erik Bakke
In the exhibition "Cult Classics, not Best Sellers" of the work of Keith Boadwee and Patrick Rock at Queen's Nails Annex in San Francisco the front room is all Boadwee. The infamous campaign poster "Vote Dick Rider for Supervisor" is framed for viewing. A large painting offers up the text "Butt Holes" and the canvas sits on some stuffed socks in the fashion of Chris Ofili's paintings sitting on elephant dung. In a photographic self-portrait Boadwee casually leans back in a chair displaying his hard cock. In another photograph an asshole replaces the face of the artist. Here, does Boadwee refer to being pigeon-holed as "that guy who painted with his ass?" In a less confrontational work the words "David" and "Hockney" are written one above another in yarn, and the commingling yarn-ends seem an onanistic homage to Hockney and perhaps his own erotic portraits of himself and Picasso.
Boadwee's central installation riffs on Duchamp's bicycle wheel readymade of 1913 and brings the conceptual further down to earth. A unicycle is mounted horizontally into the stump of a redwood tree. On an end table elevated by a steel elbow, also attached to the trunk, are gay porn magazines and a bottle of "poppers" (alkyl nitrite). At the opening Boadwee directed a young man seated on the stump: "pedal faster, more poppers, more porn, faster."
In the middle room of the gallery's three viewing rooms Rock's seven foot many-layered cake is displayed fallen to the floor like a frosted Goliath. His photographic self-portrait, reminding of Boadwee, shows the heavier Rock sitting not in a chair but on the floor and showing off not his dick but what looks like ground meat covering his genitals. A video offers a view into the hole of a balloon as it releases gas. The pathetic as sublime has a history. Like Kippenberger, Rock takes the rough and haphazard and lightly wrests beauty from it. We are left with a delicate glow resulting from the room's floor being painted an aggressive, florescent pink.
In the back room a suite of Rock's works on paper are hung salon style. In some the artist appears in clown makeup and underwear and a white suit coat. In one work a gloved hand with finger pointed is thrust through a donut hole of paint; the artist as clown has a pictorial thought bubble of a phallic sausage; the ransom-note-style collaged text reads "FUCK ME NO FUCK YOU." In another work a mushroom cloud blows through a ring of paint and the text reads "BLOW ME." A photograph of a gravestone, circled by another ring of spray paint, shows the engraving on the stone to read "CHRONIC MASTURBATOR." Despite the narratives of frustration and failure and the use of photo-collage and spray paint, showing through is the artist's refined touch. The ballet dancer is graceful even in booted feet.