White Snow, Thumper 1, by Paul McCarthy, 2014-2016
The American artist Paul McCarthy is currently exposing in Brussels! The first time I read something about him was when I did some research for my thesis on public art. Do you know his statue called ‘Santa Claus‘? It’s a huge gnome holding something in his hand that looks like a buttplug. The statue was moved around several times in Rotterdam because a lot of citizens didn’t want it in their neighborhood. They were too shocked by the image. Paul McCarthy also did performances that were often perceived as shocking. For example, one time he showed his buttocks all covered in chocolate sauce! Yummie.
White Snow Head, by Paul McCarthy, 2012-2013
The exhibition is divided into two parts: one part at 6, Rue St-Georges and the other at 107, Rue St-Georges. The first part shows McCarty’s interpretation of some well known Walt Disney figures, like Snow White and Bambi. He puts these popular icons in a much darker context. They look violent and malicious, and are often engaged in sexual activities. Like in the header image, did you notice the rabbit’s huge penis? In stead of Snow White, the artist calls her White Snow, which also refers to cocaine. With his art work he is linking children’s animation to drugs and sex. No wonder his work is considered as controversial by a lot of people.
White Snow, Bambi (Marble), by Paul McCarthy, 2014
Here we see a few figures twisted in and around each other, wearing a Bambi head. It doesn’t look reassuring at all. McCarthy criticizes the American mythology and the Western society based on mass consumption. I think he is trying to make us question our relationship to Disney movies and products. Why do we all love Disney? Why do we see it as something almost holy? Why are we shocked to see these icons in a different context?
White Snow, Dopey, Black Red White, White, by Paul McCarthy, 2011-2015
In all of these sculptures, the character’s eyes have no pupils. They are presented as hollow, brainless figures. I guess this refers to the brainlessness of mass consumption. Now let me show you one more art work from the first part of the expo. It looks slightly different than the rest.
WS, White Snow Walt Paul, The Grove, by Paul McCarthy, 2015
At first, you only see a huge stone block with plants and flowers in it. But when you look closely, there seems to be some activity in these bushes. A pervert man is dragging around a naked woman. Is she dead? What the hell did he do with her?
SC Western John Wayne, blue, by Paul McCarthy, 2016
Now, off to the second part of the exhibition, called ‘Coach Stage Stage Coach’. Another big theme in McCarthy’s work is the American Western movie. The most famous one is called Stagecoach, directed by John Ford, featuring John Wayne. In the movie, a group of strangers travel together in a stagecoach trough the desert, followed by Apache Indians. I never saw the movie, so I’m not sure I truly understand what McCartney is saying in this series. I read that he created an alternative storyline, where the 6 main characters are engaging in sexual activities along the road. Besides the blue John Wayne sculpture you can see in the picture, there are also drawings of the artist’s own movie scenario. They are quite shocking because we see blow jobs, threesomes, bondage and horrific torture scenes. I think McCarthy showed me every possible taboo there is in this world.
CSSC, Frederic Remington Charles Bronson, by Paul McCarthy, 2014-2016
It’s the first time there is such a major exhibition by McCarthy in Brussels, so don’t miss it. It is definitely worth a visit!
09/09/2016 – 22/10/2016
Rue St-Georges 6 & 107, 1050 Brussels