Friday, January 14, 2011
Saul lived and worked in Europe for eight years, returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1964. He states in the exhibition catalogue that Americans weren't really studying their culture yet, so he was able to plumb its riches from afar. His work intersected with and/or likened to R. Crumb, the Hairy Who and Guston, and these intersections come immediately to mind when you see the paintings; they also conjure, from a greater distance, Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, also in Europe in the late 1950s.In the catalogue interview with Chris Byrne, Saul responds to a question about why he draws distortion: "I like to draw cartoony because it adds a feeling of movement." He adds, "a great many mistakes are a good thing because they slow down the viewing, and become interesting points to look at..." and cites an incident in London in 1956 when artist Pietro Annigoni was criticized for making one of the Queen's arms too long and Saul, with 20,000 others, stood on line to see it. Saul states, "like Ingres he was trying to stretch the body a little further. A few years later I began to think about this event: 20,000 people looking at a mistake."
Saul's show is one of those that makes you wan to drop everything and paint.