So long, Pollock! See you later, Franz Kline! On April 18, UTSA students Raul Gonzalez, Jose Cardenas and Rafael Gutierrez, dressed in homemade costumes, slugged it out at High Wire Arts in San Antonio, in front of a live audience.
Inspired by Ushio Shinohara’s boxing paintings, the performance, organized by Gonzalez, a graduate student, mixed boyish roughhousing, Lucha Libre, and WWE spectacle. Although it was billed as “a re-approach to action painting,” War Paint was more about un-painting: no fewer than seven canvases (and an innocent poster) get trashed during the brawl. This summer, Gonzalez plans to clear out his UTSA studio, and stage some performances that involve more actual paint, and less macho posturing.
Promo video for Captain Kiser’s Thumb in the Eye Wrestling Federation
Art-sports spectacles are proliferating like NFL playoff slots: last August, Dallas was alternately enlivened and enraged by Captain Kiser’s Thumb in the Eye Wrestling Federation performance, part of the DallasSITES exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art, which used similar WWE-inspired staging. On September 13, new UTSA professor Christie Blizard is planning a mud-wrestling event at the Epitome Institute in San Antonio, and has advertised on Craigslist for opponents who look like abstract expressionists. She’s already signed up and a deKooning (sorry!) but is still looking for Lee Krasner or Joan Mitchell.
Said Gonzalez on the origins of this new work: “I don’t need to spend my time working out, or trying to throw a baseball really fast– I’ve had way too many injuries in my life that are sports related. What the fuck am I doing trying to be a fucking athlete? If I just try being a painter and an artist, I’m sure I’ll still get hurt,” adding that the performance had “turned out a little more chaotic than we thought.”
Rafael Gutierrez is a UTSA undergraduate in new media.
Jose Cardenas is a BFA sculpture major.
Raul Gonzalez, and event organizer, is a graduate student at UTSA.