Pin-ups that promote Buddhism: what could be more vulgar? Yet you keep watching. If only because you are looking for an answer to the question of what makes it so wrong. Is it the absurd combination? Or is it the way it’s done? Its very easy of course, you tear a page out of a magazine and stick the text ‘BUDA’ on it. Naturally misspelled too. Everything is misplaced. And yet, the longer you look, the more you realize that it is not that simple to put this in a box. Not even as bad art.
The subject of “sex and religion” has a long tradition. Doesn’t everything revolve around these two poles of our existence: body and soul, lust and spiritual uplifting?
A philosophical reflection that fits here is that of the relationship between image and language, which in itself has a long history. The image as a mirror of our physical reality. Of of earthly existence, fleeting and impermanent, and that of language which transcends it, both timeless and sublime.
All true, Erik van Lieshout seems to say, but no reason to complicate things. It is the directness that makes this work unique. It is both vulgar and wrong, but in a disarming way.
And when we talk about ‘wrong’, is that not pretty much the trademark of Erik van Lieshout? What began twenty years ago with drawings of women with beards has become a major exposé of impossible desires and dreams.
On the artwork “Buda” below left is the address of the website of the magazine: www.loaded.co.uk. Click Girls and you come out on the pages it refers to, Erik’s favorite masturbation haunt, with those typically English, prudish, childlike women.
Surrender is liberation. “Wer sich zeigt heilt sich” a statement once made by Christoph Schlingensief. A quote Erik van Lieshout likes to use. Akin to the three works in the collection of ART21: wrong they surely are, but all the more inescapable.