Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dick Frizzell: The Painter - portrait of as an artist as a bit of a clever (errr ) Dick!

Frizzell is one of the few artists whose books could dominate its own stand in the middle of Whitcoulls, or any mainstream book shop. That's because Frizzell, whether he likes it or not, has become the kind of icon that he pokes fun at in with own art. His works are often as well known and as iconic as some of the commercials that he left behind in his old profession as an ad man. To be fair, though, he's always appropriated images and ideas from commercial art - whether it be Mickey Mouse or the famous Four Square man - and, like a good PR he's been able to sell us back what we've always taken for granted - like selling ice to Inuits or sand to Arabs.

It's no mistake that Frizzell has almost single handedly made Kiwiana desirable and respectable. But as this book shows, there's plenty more that just Mokos on grocers. Each series or work is lke a campaign, focusing on a small series of topics and themes. What surprised me was his magpie eye and skill for copying virtually any style - from the cheesy oil painting of childrens toys boxtops to high end oils and water colours and the dripping-with-ironic Glen Baxter rip offs. Frizzell is really more of an art director than an artist. ven when the messages are as plain as words on a canvas he's emmulating artist like McCahon. This book, a new revision, pretty much picks up where the earlier edition finishes with additional chapters documenting his revival and fame as a more commercial man - who ironically created tongue in cheek art tea towels, a rock'n'roll grover and his own unashamed set of wine labels. If one of the main roles of an artist is to point out the bleedin' obvious, whilst making you smile AND being an artifact you'd actually want on your wall, then Frizzell is for you. If you can't afford the originals, buy the linen, or cruise the web site or snap up some of the World Cup Rugby gear (now on special) buy the book of the artist of the image of the idea of the concept of the joke of the comercial!