Paul Thek: If you don’t like this book you don’t like me
- Neil Cooper
- 23 May 2012
Candid close-up of Brooklyn-born painter and sculptor
‘I will now call to mind our past foulness and the carnal corruptions of my soul’ goes one missive culled from the now opened pages of almost a hundred notebooks left behind by Brooklyn-born painter and sculptor Thek, which came to light following his death in 1988. Given the sculptures and installations that formed the body of much of his work from the 1960s Technological Reliquaries series onwards, where one might expect blueprints for the environments shown at this year’s Thek retrospective at the Whitney in New York, one is hit instead with something infinitely more personal.
Such a panoply of ripped-up autobiographical scraps and pencilled-in dreamscapes lays bare a candid close-up into one man’s self-reflexive, self-absorbed but self-aware quest towards a higher state of being. Thek’s ruminations on art, sex and spirituality are Me-Generation precursors to a similarly confessional Zine and blog culture that followed. The works beyond this are big-bang stream-of consciousness splodges of colour, finished products borne of a self-analysis subsequently captured in the notebooks for precious posterity.
The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 2 Jun