(American, born 1942)
Shapes with Chattering Man, 1986
two elements: acrylic on canvas, 96 x 69 inches; painted wood, steel, electric motor and audio equipment, 84 x 36 x 24 inches
Artwork courtesy of the Artist
The imagery in Jonathan Borofsky’s visionary art is of a highly personal nature, sometimes inspired by the artist’s own dreams. However, even at its most autobiographical, his work often manages to tap into our collective unconscious in ways that are at turns humorous and disturbing. It is this mysterious process of self-revelation that makes Borofsky’s art so compelling and memorable.
One of Borofsky’s recurring motifs is the figure of the Chattering Man, which serves as both a surrogate for the artist and a metaphor for the audience in general–the symbolic Everyman. These mechanical sculptures are usually exhibited within complex installations that also include drawings, paintings and other sculptures that simultaneously chant or sing. In Shapes with Chattering Man a lone figure faces an abstract painting of boulder-like forms while dispassionately repeating the word “chatter, chatter, chatter.” This mundane mantra (voiced by the artist himself) seems to express the restless mind of the viewer and, perhaps, the futility of language to describe or interpret art.
If you stop for a moment at any time of the day and catch yourself, you see you’re making thoughts all the time. It’s almost never totally peaceful. I mean not everybody, but most people, I’m not sure, are chattering in a way. The problem is for me. I decided to find ways to bring peace to that chatter.
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