|A Picture from Life's Other Side [Hank Williams] by Joe Coleman|
I first saw this piece by Joe Coleman when it graced the cover of Juxtapoz magazine back in the spring of 2000, and it was a life changing piece for me. You see, before this cover I had never envisioned an artistic work that had words on it. Sure I had seen some silly shit that me and my buddies were doing where we drew and then wrote text about it like some sort of juvenile avant-garde work, but here was an artist that had actually been published in a magazine doing the same thing - only far more elegantly.And that elegance comes from the fact that Coleman is a master of this style of painting. This style differs from the traditional form, where the audience is required to infer the narrative from the images on the canvas, by Coleman's explicit telling of the narrative both through the imagery used and through the text on the canvas.
A remarkable change from the traditional.
In this particular piece we're given a narrative on the life of Hank Williams Sr.. Throughout the piece important people and events are scattered about like photographs thrown on the ground retelling the man's life.
While there is a scattered feel to the scenes of Hank's life there is a hauntingly disturbing feel to the overall work. If you pay attention to the people in the picture you'll notice that depending on their impact on his life the look of the individual is stylized in different ways. Positive interactions tend to have more flattering and warm pictures, while those more typical of Hank's turbulent life are shown with angry visages or sickly - creepy even - skin and smarmy looks on their faces. And then there are his slithering lyrics that writhe about the painting like snakes looking for freedom. All and all this picture presents a complete impression of the man and his short life.
I just love this piece.