An audacity of hope: art non grata?

Or is it an audacity to call it art? Its audacity not to call it art. Peter Alexander Por’s recent   exhibit called Persona Non Grata- The Veil of History seemed to rile the back hairs of a large number of the religious community in Canada; the knee-jerk response showing how reactionary the burgher class tends to be. A popping good time was not had by all.  One of the paintings was of the pope riddled with bullets; another had Barack Obama nailed to a cross cast as a victim and crucified in the wake of special interests.''right up through Robert Rauschenberg and more recent Pop and post-modern manifestations. The works of these people sit in the great museums of the world, looking like punks in a parlour. And the avant-garde artists, many of whom had academic credentials, knew there was pleasure in this madness --- gathering, discovering, hoarding, looking for the perfect application, a wedding of chance and inspiration. André Breton in L'amour fou (1937) describes himself and Alberto Giacometti eagerly searching through Paris fleamarkets, as if in a dream, trying to follow their desire to the exact object needed for the completion of pieces they were working on. Peter is obviously in the tradition. Look at the accretions on his canvases, the toys and other gadgets, the wonderfully appropriate strip of decorative lace...'' read more:

But there is method to Por’s madness. Evidently, the creationist collars and flock fail to pick up any of the extra-rational qualities of the work. Or the humor. Name of the Rose anyone? Por’s ideas which ignore conventional taste and call into question the process of art making.derives from a long tradition: Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp and the surrealists.

Organized religion was not amused:Bezpala Brown Gallery president Darrell Brown said the gallery received about 8,000 e-mails in one hour from the American Catholic group America Needs Fatima which launched a web campaign against Peter Alexander Por’s exhibit “Persona Non Grata: The Veil of History,” running at the gallery from February 5 to 25. Brown first promoted the exhibit with a provocative press release called “Pope shot, Obama crucified at the Bezpala Brown Gallery.”

“Pope Benedict XVI’s portrait is riddled with bullet holes, a less than subtle expression of the hurt and anger directed at a pontiff and an institution that has abandoned its flock, choosing to focus on dogma while its subjects suffer and, in many instances, die from its archaic policies,” the release read, referring to the clergy abuse scandal that has rocked the Church. Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League, called the exhibit’s message “very insulting, very misleading and inaccurate.” read More:

tribute to the cathars.judy stoffman:Why would an artist waste his talent and attention on ignoble and depraved figures? Peter Alexander Por has lived through dark times. Born before the end of World War II in Budapest, when Hitler and Stalin were still ripping up Europe, he is a contemporary of many of his subjects. They have shadowed his life. Brought up as a Catholic, he is acutely sensitive to the great struggle between good and evil in the world. The existence of cruelty and murder offends him personally and he cannot forget it. It is as though he lacks the protective skin that most people have developed to be able to function.

Ray Ellenwood:Consider Pope Innocent The Third. Not content to wield immense power in Europe, he grew impatient with a group of dissidents (the Cathars, whom he saw as heretics) living in the area of Languedoc around Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne in what is now France. These people had the effrontery not only to question doctrine, but to condemn luxury and corruption in the church. This was in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Innocent encouraged King Louis IX to mount the Albigensian crusades, essentially sending what is now the north of France against the south, cousin against cousin, in the first and only crusade of the Catholic Church against Christians. The armies enforcing the Pope’s point of view enjoyed his absolution and were given the right to claim the property of those they destroyed. Thousands of men, women and children were killed. The entire town of Béziers was wiped out….

don't mean the movie kind --- Godzilla or Hannibal Lecter --- I mean the real thing, the historical human embodiments of nature red in tooth and claw, powerful instigators of mass slaughter, the ones who make you want to believe in fairy tales about poetic justice and avenging gods. Peter Alexander Por has been living with a gang of these creatures during the past year, for reasons known only to himself, researching, looking for ways to depict them.-ray ellenwood

Dante knew what such holy men deserve. And what about that devil who shook the hand of Romeo Dallaire, or the perpetrators of genocide in what was Yugoslavia, or in Armenia, or Indonesia? It’s not always easy to get a clear picture of them. One man’s brutal dictator may be another’s Uncle Joe, even a hero or protector. According to the Globe and Mail of December 18, Hitler has only now been struck from the honour roll of the citizens of Dulmen in North Rhine-Westphalia, seventy years after orchestrating some of the defining horrors of the twentieth century, That may be why Peter’s monsters remain veiled, sketchy, missing colour and detail, with ambiguous lines somehow squaring them off in what could be a hopeless wish to define or confine them.

But one thing is sure: these personae are more than just non grata. Peter’s studio is full of signs that he is fascinated with, and hates viscerally, the kinds of powerful violence they represent. There, you see military targets bearing images of “enemy” soldiers, paintings of young men with big guns, sculptures where the artist has beaten plowshares (or at least pieces from implements such as a mitre saw) into mock-weapons, in a parody of the military/industrial complexes whose wicked, leaking bullyboys have dominated so much of the international press in recent days. Read More: a

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Anti Bullshit Cannon. 2011.


In an earlier interview with LifeSiteNews Brown said Por, “painted holes, he does not regard them as bullet holes – that was my view as to how it would be perceived too … by analogy, [they] suggest that this is a troubled institution. He was not in any way intending to incite hatred against an individual. He was intending to promote debate about the Church and its stance on certain issues.”

Por told The National Catholic Register that the portrait of the pope is not riddled with bullet holes but rather that the 37 holes represent a “visual pun” on Pope Benedict as a “holey” man.

“In a way, I’m a court jester. I’ve told the Pope his story about the sex abuse is full of nonsense or gaps, and those are holes,” the 66-year-old Por said.Read More:
Q. Are there ideas as dangerous to our modern worldview as an Aristotelian treatise on laughter would have been perceived in 1327?

A. Even our times have been full of dictatorships that have burned books. What does it mean, the Salman Rushdie persecution, if not to try to destroy a book? We are always trying to destroy something.

Even today we have this continual struggle between people that believe certain texts are dangerous and must be eliminated. So my story is not so outdated, even though it takes place in the Middle Ages. We are not better.

Even here, people are discussing whether it is advisable or not to allow certain kinds of information on the Internet. Is it really permissible to allow people to teach people how to poison your mother, or make a bomb, through the Internet? We are always concerned that there are fearful texts. …

…Q. In “The Name of the Rose,” there was a serious discussion of whether Jesus laughed. Do you believe that God has a sense of humor?

A. What is the strange and unique property of a human being? To know we are mortal … which is an important piece of knowledge, if not so exciting. And I think just because we are the only ones to know we have to die, we are the only ones who try to react by laughing. In this sense, if God exists, he has no need to laugh. But maybe he would smile … (laughs). Read More:

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