It was Robert Rauschenberg who said, “Some people try to think up ideas. I am not one of them. I prefer to accept the irresistible possibilities of what I can’t Ignore.” For the last twenty-nine years, the majority of my body of work has been one in the same thinking with his quote. “Coup d’état” is a new work that I have wanted to produce for a very long time, but I was unable to construct the proper visual object matter to convey the visually contextualized intended subject matter. By no means, was I Ignoring it.
For those who can’t ignore contemporary global events, the title, “Coup d’état”, may at first seem very much like a reference to something of the moment. Of course, the concept of a coup d’état, to over throw an existing government has been featured in politics since antiquity, but the phrase is relatively recent coinage.
When I first saw Sparky (Charles M. Schulz) draw, roughly in pencil and then finally in India ink, that beautiful struggle between his characters of Snoopy and Linus over his security blanket, I told him that it had a quality and meaningful expression through which the personality felt like some kind of a coup d’état event. He was quick to remind me that not all coup d’états are concerning government overthrows, but can, as well, be events in ones own personal and professional life, and even especially in the matters of love.
Today, I personally understand this more than ever, as I definitely feel a triumph of a coup d’état over Johns Hopkins Hospital giving me 2 years to live, 29 years ago. Maybe, and more importantly, he was referring to the love and passion involved in the struggle that allows one’s life to grow and go forth.
In using the appropriation of Sparky’s visual object matter without the character drawing of Linus, as a subversive method of camouflage for its actual subject matter, the viewer is left with an open casting call for whom or what is at the other end of Snoopy’s struggle for the blanket, in a Coup d’état of the viewer’s own life experiences.
In the words of Marcel Duchamp, “The artist performs only one part of the creative process. The onlooker completes it, and it is the onlooker who has the last word.