Mark Flood is often referred to as a punk artist, partially because he played in a band named 'Culturcide' in his youth, and also because he makes some very angry paintings. At 54, the Houston-based artist is looking back on his oeuvre in a new solo show. Though we're not often fans of '80s nostalgia, we are happy to report that the first survey of Flood's work during this period is now on view at Luxembourg & Dayan in New York, and it's worth checking out. There are paintings, collages, drawings, and photographs from an era when Ronald Reagan was the devil and Texas was the reason that the President was dead (according to the Misfits). Alison Gingeras curated these disparate pieces, all bound by aggression and absurdity -- the twin undercurrents in Flood's work.
Is it strange that an artist who urges us to "Eat Human Flesh," (1989), "Masturbate Often," (1989) and "Fuck The Economy" (1989) is showing at a posh Upper East Side gallery? Perhaps not. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Flood said, "I hate parasitical art bureaucracies. I hate nonprofit organizations. I love willful rich people who are obsessed with art." Luxembourg & Dayan might be the perfect space to house his work, then. Each room in the multi-story house features a different set of Flood's 80's hits, from his found paintings on the second floor to porn mashups on the 4th floor, ending with the punk bedroom on the top floor, where a Culturcide 7" wobbles steadily on a portable record player. We imagined an angry teen skulking in his parents' pied-a-terre, cutting up teen magazines and listening to the boys from Houston sing over mangled pop songs.
When we arrived at the gallery, we found Flood inching closer and closer to a twentysomething female reporter attempting to take a photo of him. He eventually pinned her against the wall, while she awkwardly tried to play along. How far would he go? We decided to tap him on the shoulder and jokingly ask if he wanted to wrestle, and this seemed to unnerve him. At this point, we realized Flood is still incredibly pissed off, despite his lace painting series and anything else he's done since then that was deemed aesthetically pleasing.
In "Pressed Released: Notes on Mark Flood's Hateful Years," 'Crack Foyer' writes about the artist's "plundering of the image world" in order to put a cracked mirror on our idols. Flood doesn't mince words in his work; he acknowledges that we are wage slaves and consumerist zombies living in overdeveloped parking lots. There's still a lot to be angry about here, which is why Flood's paintings and collages pack a punch thirty years later. But we have to say we're tired of the male bravado that is often associated with punk artists, and we don't think we're alone. By all means stay hateful, but next time pick on someone your own size.
"Mark Flood: The Hateful Years" is on view at Luxembourg & Dayan in New York until September 29, 2012.
Update: A gallery representative assured us that Flood was playfully posing as the "angry monster" of his hateful years for a Purple photographer, and that the photographer was in on the joke.