Paul Dressen





Neither Confirmed nor Denied: MFA 2015

SUArt Galleries

April 2 – May 10, 2015


Artist Statement

My work continues to bear the imprint of my interest in cultural studies and the search for the individual’s role in society. American culture, in particular, has been a constant influence and source of imagery for me as I attempt to navigate the lines between the individual, private and public. The results of this negotiation are collections of comic illustrations, depictions of personal insecurities, and murky one-line jokes that attempt to delineate personal anxieties, discredit individual and cultural ideologies, and swirl the vertical line of power to affirm the personal as political.

Drawing devil horns on politicians in newspapers, scribbling stubble and eye patches on diplomats in magazines, and blacking out the teeth of supermodels on subway advertisements are all classic tropes of defacement doodling. Like attempting to emasculate a body builder, these minor acts of vandalism mimic the original joke of the fall and, on a comically small scale, they threaten the established order of things. By recontextualizing the characters, scenes, and scenarios in my own work, I also seek to make light of classic conventions and undermine models of power.

Striving to create works with a variety of materials challenges me to embrace the opportunities each provides to collect, construct, alter, and deconstruct. Printed material serves as the foundation for most of my work because it presents a practical and seemingly inexhaustible cache of images that can propel creation forward. More importantly, creating multiples to work on top of negates the preciousness of painting and drawing and facilitates experimentation. It equips me with a safety net for failure that democratically allows even the weakest voices to be heard while broaching notions of consumption, commerce, and collectability.