“The causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.” (Fyodor Dostoyevski, ‘The Idiot’)
“Human feelings and actions are highly overdetermined, bound to have several causes and contain several meanings. As discoverers and documenters of overdetermination psychoanalysts and historians are allies in the struggle against reductionism, against naïve and crude monocausal explanations.” (Peter Gay, ‘Freud For Historians’, 1985)
The same applies to art.
At first sight W Louis Rosa’s outlook on the world seems rather patchy and limited to ostensible ‘tableau vivant’ scenes that appear unrelated to any setting or context and void of any obvious meaning or intention.
WLR doesn’t intend to make an illustration or a copy of reality. Rather he creates a conceptual impression of what he perceives as reality. A paste-up of fragments of tainted memories and conceivable experiences. And as such it is merely an assembly of the uniqueness of everyday life triviality. The artist labels his work as a representation of non-persons, non-places and non-events.
Insignificance as the only real subversive force.
WLR denounces anything that would explain his work or raise questions that are blatantly obvious, and he is not seeking any credibility or purpose for his art. He strongly opposes the trend that art work needs justification, that it should address contemporary issues or question society, or hypothesize an ongoing quest. Art should not be a superficial pamphlet or a trendy pleaser. It should not be funneled into a tunnel vision that makes it depend on accountability and meaning, market forces and hypes, and plastic tricks that look ‘interesting’ at first but ultimately limit the expression of the artist…
Therefore WLR does not create a fantasy world, nor does he ascribe supernatural powers to his subjects, disfigure them, fit them with strange mystical attributes or prompt the imagery with text or slogans. No spoon-feeding! He expects the viewer to make an effort and look beyond what is readily apparent. Even though the artist finds inspiration in issues like gender and social equality, migration, slave labour, #metoo,… he will not show disrespect by blowing it up out of all proportions just for the sake of superficial shock-and-awe, convenient political correctness or easy approval.
WLR prefers to draw the viewer’s attention to man’s intrinsic secrets and peculiarities that are given away by small gestures. Baring examples of the autonomous complex working in the individual and society. Unintended. But undeniable. Man disembarrassed of his ego. Man caught in a dark cloaking murk of matter and muck. Frozen in minutiae that sooner or later will reveal their latent virulence in the non-descript details. The kind that go unnoticed for a while but turn out to be disturbing and confronting. Like a stone in a shoe. Hence the denominator “Gravel”.
If anything, the artist intends to open our eye to ourselves, to make us reflect on our actions and envisage man in the grand scheme of things. But each to his own, each introspecting his own self. With his work WLR assembles mirrors of life and he dares us to look into them. Mirrors are inviting but can be deceiving. We gaze all at the reflection. But whether false or real, we see what we want to see. To limit any contamination from his side, WLR paints fast and employs a technique that is indebted to fresco painters. Each brush stroke is final; correction is not possible. Loose suggestive brushstrokes appearing almost abstract alternate with meticulous detailed naturalism, subtly directing the viewer’s eye to various parts of the painting. Similar to depth of field in photography it paves the way to impressionability and suggestion. It allows the viewer to spontaneously add layers, focus and interrelations to the depiction. Though not merely in form and content than rather in its subtext and context. Feeding a multiplicity of interpretations and questions. Like this everyone will make up his own story, truth and explanation. Each to his own.
W Louis Rosa paints you. He re-creates your life. And makes it his own. He is our demiurge. As miserable or as glorious as it may be, no indulgence will be given, ideal it will be not.
And suddenly the bathos becomes confronting…