In early POP ART books, Peter Saul’s work is most often represented by a painting of oranges, cut in half, running around firing guns indiscriminately in the company of money, rendered in bright oil paint colors and slashes. He says that he was trying to paint like De Kooning.
De Kooning had been ruling the world of painting for half a decade already, way back then, with his lavish calligraphic arm-long gorgeous linear sweeps and lovely color overlays– with his big fat ABSTRACT paintings. He had out bravura’d Picasso, a major road block in the way of painter’s ambitions since the first decades of the 20th century. Plus, De Kooning had re-introduced figuration into the newly established church of abstraction and the nudes were ugly and insulting to women. De Kooning parked his paintwagon in the middle of the art highway and there was a traffic jam. Everyone was honking the horn.
So Peter Saul gets out of his fucking ice-cream wagon and out flails and outsmears and out color-composes De Kooning and not only kicks DeKooning’s ass in the abstraction domain, but opens a Pandora’s box, a Fibber McGee’s closet, of obscene, slanderous, jaw-dropping satirical pictorial indictments of humanity. Guns, ducks, nudes, soldiers, jet fighters, bombs, pirates, stagecoaches, Roman centurions, swans, cupckes, exploding subway cars, bridges twisting like licorish whips, Chairman Mao, Hitler, Andy Warhol and Stalin slugging it out. He not only insulted women he insults everyone on planet earth–all of humanity. Everything we hold dear. Yet, we are not hurt. This critical alchemy might serve as a lesson for all sensitivities. Or not.
Peter is a nice guy, but he is not going to protect you from yourself, or me either. If you don’t know his work you are in for an electrocution of your sense of what is funny and profound. It’s not for everybody. Peter could care less. He has his own ice-cream truck, metaphorically speaking, and he is one of the best painters in the world and folks know it.