Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Comics Round Up #7: R. Clint Colburn's Wild Glass Look Back

Wild Glass Look Back from Space Face Books by R. Clint Colburn is not comics in the strict sense. Then again, I've never been one to care about any strict sense when it comes to comics. It is an art book. And it does flow from page to page, and it does seem to move through time, and it does take the viewer on a psychedelic trip, much like the recently reviewed Circles Cycles Circuits by Dunja Jankovic. Colburn's work is more abstract, less linear and more strictly visual. Wild Glass Look Back takes place in a world in which language eats itself, cancels itself out, runs backwards and forwards; maybe you even need to hold the pages up to a mirror.

Full disclaimer: I know Clint socially from knocking about that collection of contradictions that is sleepy little Lexington, Kentucky. Younger than me, I can't really separate getting to know Clint from hearing from mutual artists about his art, or if I was introduced to his art before I was introduced to him. The jungle of my memory is not unlike the place that Colburn takes us in this book: the distinction of time and place, the past and future are not's all happening right now, page to it backwards or forwards and the end result is the same. We are entering into something, not being led like a dog on a leash for our daily walkies.

Colburn's work is arguably best known from gracing album and seven inch covers by Cage the Elephant or Idiot Glee. He is a proper gallery artist whose "commercial" work and cartooning or work in the form of books or zines all seems to flow from one format to the other, as if Colburn just stops at each moment to let the images speak in whatever context, like the images in his head are in a constant stream of consciousness. If he's performing in bands like CROSS or drawing, painting, designing covers, with Clint: it's all one ongoing conversation, like a jazz soloist whose life is one constant riffing, getting from one note to another. I mean, hell, aren't we all (artists or not)? But what makes R. Clint Colburn an artist is just how interesting (and how interesting the focus of) it all is. It's like it's our world, and Colburn is just here to play in it for us.

With Wild Glass Look Back you'll probably wanna sit down with your favorite drink or smoke (whatever gets you comfortable) and just watch him make it happen. If you want to dig deeper on what's happening to you, as viewer, you're going to see human figures moving through time, maybe being born, and returning to where they came from. Feline animal faces will seem to hum with electric information encoded in color. It might be difficult to know if you are in a place of war or harmony. But there will be no doubt you are in an experience of things.

Numbers appear that seem at first to be a phone number missing a digit could turn out, upon further reflection, to be the Magic Square of Fu Hsi. The motif of two triangles together might represent the flesh or material matter and the male generative act, while another, pointed downward, might signify female sexuality and the spiritual plane. And if you see a third triangle it could even be emblematic of the three Masons who were present at the opening of the first Lodge of Intimate Secretaries. Which makes me wonder if Colburn is intimating that King Solomon is present in these pages.

If you are into art that makes you ask yourself questions for which you may not have answers and opens up rather than limits experience...this will work for you. If not, there's probably a television show on right now that would serve you better. I don't say that to be snarky or play holier-than-thou: just saying soap opera this ain't.

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