Artist David Russell Talbott is having an exhibition of his art at the Tractor Room this Thursday. I met David several years ago and have been following his art career for a few years now. Inspired by Hollywood, politics, scandal and crime. Talbott has done a series of work that depicts American life.
"Hollywood Pulpcore" is an ongoing series of paintings about actors and actresses, going back to the days when Hollywood began. Talbott's informed me his aunt Gloria was an actress and an inspiration to him. At the age of six she began her film career. She was very active in movies and television. Towards the end of her career she worked in a few b-movies in the horror and sci-fi genres. She was one of the first, "Scream Queens" that was popular in film back in the late fifties. When David would visit her she would tell him stories about the scandal and gossip she witnessed when she was acting. Her experiences resonated with David, leading him to do the "Hollywood Pulpcore" series. Each painting shows an actor or actress and depicts some kind of scandal or rumor about them.
Talbott takes the pulpcore series further by adapting it to modern day social issues. His interpretation takes a modern look at subject matter like teenage pregnancy, alcoholism and racism.
Talbott uses dark imagery masked with the normalcy reminiscent of 1950s American ad campaigns.
"The Seven Deadly Sins"
Talbott's most recent work is a series of paintings portraying the seven deadly sins. Talbott's was inspired when he saw artist Paul Cadmus's work on the same subject. Cadmus painted the sins as a series of demons with human characteristics. Talbott's interpretation of the sins is quite different. Instead of portraying the sins as demons Talbott gives the sins a more human aspect by using examples from American history.
The atomic bomb and scenes of the Vietnam War are apparent in the "Wraith" painting while he jumps to current times in the painting "Greed" which raises questions about events like 9/11 and Indian owned gambling casinos. In the "Sloth" painting it shows a housewife serving a cup of oil to Uncle Sam with two businessmen drinking a shot of "Rip Van Winkle" a comment on our dependency on oil and laziness to make any change.
I asked Talbott about the use of Latin text in the paintings. Talbott replies,"All the sins are titles in Latin because that's how they were first written about by Pope Gregory in 590 AD. Although, visually the paintings conjure up images of the fifties, many of the metaphors I use are taken from Dante's Inferno. Throughout history each sin has also been given a specific color, demon, and form of punishment in hell. These are all used in the paintings as well."
If you would like to see some of Talbott's work, his next showing is called "I'll Cut a Witch" it's a one night only, art show held at The Tractor Room located at 3687 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103. The reception will be held on Thursday, July 19th, from 6pm to 9pm, one night only.