Heart Held
Hayes Raffle, 2003

Paper, "Folk Art" Acrylic

Heart Held combines distortions of the kitsch and banal in a mockery of precious craft methods. Raffle appropriates how-to lessons from Donna Dewberry’s Complete Book of One-Stroke Painting in a grotesque interpretation of everyday craft instruction. Raffle has painted a simple heart shaped paper box white and has blistered the paint with extreme heat to create a texture both sensual and frightening, asking the viewer to question their relationship to the banal.


The opened box reveals a blatant reference to the two-tone recipe from Dewberry’s “Basic Leaf” ridiculously applied as globs of paint, rather than the prescribed gradient blend. While a quick glance at the painting technique suggests a childlike crudeness, this apparent innocence is belied by subtle cracks that cleave the spare lines of color in the painted surfaces. A simple leaflet form of a young sprout is mirrored in the top and bottom of the box.

These sprouts reference both the nascence with which Raffle regards his source materials (and possibly his art materials, as well), and points to a self-referential tension between craft and art that is thematic of this work. Raffle has indeed incorporated a certain craft in Heart Held, although it is not the one that will be easily found in art store prescriptive books, nor is it a style designed for the bourgeois mantelpiece.
Heart Held points to works by both Koons and Gober in which everyday objects are appropriated in a work of art and craft techniques are applied to reinterpret the meaning of the object. While Koons recontextualizes craft and product vis-à-vis art world celebrity, Gober internalizes the craft object to claim ownership over the object and its environments. Like Gober’s hand-crafted plumbing fixtures, Heart Held is a sincere appropriation of the object through its physical reinterpretation. On another hand, Heart Held intentionally mocks a kitsch culture of art-making and raises questions of status and value in the arts. Craft is exposed here as a tool for sarcasm. An amplified application of materials, processes and techniques has lead to the destruction of the precious and resulted in Raffle’s poingnant reinterpretation of the banal.


mas962 : 2b: box ... september 29, 2002
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