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On Billy Al Bengston :: by Rob Savela

Posted on 27 Jan 2012 in Friends Of The Shop, Opinion | 1 comment

Meet Rob Savela, or “Sav” as he’s known to the guys around the shop.  As a local artist and longtime friend of Ryan’s, Sav is our fixer for all things arts related in the MSP and beyond.  In addition to our regularly scheduled programming, Sav will be contributing music and arts reviews and forecasts to the BlueCat Blog.  -Shaun

On Billy Al Bengston :: By Rob “Sav” Savela

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What’s better than black poison, most Electric Wizard songs, and all of Fugazi? Anything really, but especially Alan Watts samples and influential people like Billy Al Bengston. Artist and semi-professional motorcycle racer, a central figure in early ’60’s pure Los Angeles Pop Art and custom car culture. Racing, not art, supported him financially, surprise. His identity was a combination of subculture and leisure – surfing, car customizing, racing and scuba diving. For his most significant works he adopted the techniques and materials of the vehicle customizer – lacquer, spray painting, and non-traditional surfaces not seen in art galleries. He thinks about the symmetrical, and the material experience as much as display conditions. Newness,slick, glossy, a gearhead’s sophisticated clean aesthetic. Do not touch.

It’s a matter of personality, the way we try to impose form and meaning on things around us. What he touched became what he was. In all artists, hopefully, there is no line between art and life. It is not subject that explains essence but essence wraps itself in subject.

The road to simplicity is very complex. The power of simplicity, the passion associated with that focus. Heavy connection is needed, a zen-like it is what it is. Like Pop Art, the symbolism may obscure the real idea. Is nothing really simple? Art speaks silence…………..

references –
symbolism idea by Carl Jung, the book Proust and Signs by Gilles Deleuze, http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/billy-al-bengston-papers-10220/more, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_5_39/ai_75577263/?tag=content;col1

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  • Bengston was an important early influence, especially the chevron paintings on metal sheets, car hoods, formica, really visionary painting