I love these rather vulgar, playful paintings by Carroll Dunham. They’re crude, no doubt, they haven’t much to offer the sensitive, that is true. You may even find them offensive, and I’d understand why. I don’t even know if they have much to say but, nevertheless, their big bold shapes and colours create a style that one might describe as playful pop erotica. They’re a pleasure to look at. They make me smile if only because they’re rude in a school boy, a toilet humour kind of way. Perhaps that’s it. School boy humour disguised as art. Perhaps the truth is that there’s nothing serious going on here except the painting.
His biomorphic shapes, glimpses of a landscape in the background, are all very simply rendered, as a child would with its crayons. The colours are all bubblegum bright outlined in thick black paint, the compositions flat dissecting the canvas in a rather brutal way. Even his trees look like they could cut you to bits and I wouldn’t mess with the woman he depicts so graphically, I’d say she’d pull your head off.
But to create images as strong as this is no easy task. Dunham has applied the paint in such a way as to create a sense of unease; thinned with turpentine, his washy stains are toxic, damaged, the surfaces blistered. There is a clash of beauty and brutality. His is a toilet version of a modernist masterpiece and I mean that in the best possible way. As a compliment. Like I said I love them.