Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spirit Gallery

These are my favorite paintings from Fred Mogubgub, his "Spirit Series".

Numbers 1 through 4 live together in my living room.  I'm saving up to get #2 and #3 framed.  These are about 4.5 feet by 2.5 feet so framing runs over $500 a piece.  Numbers 3 and 4 have trompe l'oeil frames -an innovation of the artist to save his friends the expense of an actual frame.

There's power in framing a painting. These in particular with their mysticism, their otherworldliness, benefit from multiple layers to distance them back into their spirit realm.

These are portraits of spirits who visited the painter.  He was prone to unearthly encounters, including a conversation with Emanuel Swedenborg  in a phone booth outside Grand Central Station.

I imagine this talk influenced the work that followed these paintings (and is evidenced in #4), which strive to combine the physical with the spiritual.

This is the first one.  From 1980.  

This is #2, he followed shortly after.  The palate is narrowed to olive grey shades.

From a distance he looks a little frightening, approach and you can see an inviting look.

#3 from 1982.  Backgrounds are introduced.  The spirits are still emerging through a mist, but now we see deeper.

#4 has a tear which needs repair.  I wonder if he came over after his wife (#3).  Both of these add to the monochrome of #1 and #2 implying the visions coming clearer.

I took snapshots of a few others several years ago and posted them earlier.


Michael Sporn said...

Another reason to bring back phone booths; where's Emanuel Swedenborg supposed to hang out these days!

Thanks for sharing these paintings. Fred was a brilliant artist who was as original in these paintings as he was in his animation.

He was also a great guy to hang with.

Liesje said...

I actually discovered a slight tear in mine as well, left side, half-way up the painting. Not as big as #4's but let me know where you end up taking him. I may follow suit.

Unknown said...

Curious to see if this gets through to anyone out there. I actually have the first spirit painting. When the studio closed (where Virginia's Garden was painted and hung) most of us went our separate ways but apparently, Freddy continued to go and continued to paint there. Two rock clubs 'The Reggie Lounge" and another one took over the space and by some chance the painted survived.

I was walking past on my way to Nancy Whiskey Pub (where I worked) and saw something on top of a dumpster I pulled it down and saw the painting. Years later Freddie actually stopped by the bar and we spoke about it. Of course in usual Freddie fashion he said it was the best painting he ever did. When I asked him where to send it he paused and said it yours. I will treasure it for the rest of my life. I have it framed and hanging now.