Curatorial statements about Richard Deon: Paradox and Conformity

 

Richard Deon: Paradox and Conformity

For twenty years, Richard Deon has explored the visual style and procedures employed by illustrators of social studies textbooks during the 1950s. These unsung artists sought to introduce middle-school students to public institutions, history, and politics through the depiction of easily understood images and situations. Deon parodies their methods in his paintings and arranges seemingly familiar figures in circumstances that appear to illustrate useful nuggets of knowledge and instruction. His compositions, however, ultimately leave viewers puzzled. Deon persistently complicates the relationship between ideas and their representation through graphic strategies that involve disordered taxonomies, nonsensical juxtapositions, dislocation, and misidentification. Viewers are invited to consider, instead, the mechanics of authoritative visual narratives and the complex role that images play in mass-communications.

­ Thomas Piché, Jr., Director and Curator, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO.

 

Responsibility Over the Alps, 2013, injet on vinyl with grommets, 20 x 36 inches

 

Richard Deon: Paradox and Conformity

Richard Deon's work is deeply inspired by his childhood education when he was taught history from outdated American social studies textbooks that included illustrations reflecting the so-called "consensus history" of the 1950s in the United States. A major influence for the artist has been the book Visualized Civics, published to teach-through illustrations and text-social behaviors and concepts to the young generation of American citizens of the time.

Through Deon's contemporary use of imagery found in Visualized Civics, the original scenes from the book lose their rational, didactic meaning. What remains are isolated figures and structures assembled into new scenarios through visual and conceptual collages that can be defined as a sort of social surrealism. Deon's works reflect a language based on recursive imagery, and while always identical in form, the key figures change meaning in relation to the context of each new work.

The conformity promoted in the 1950s through familiar and reassuring images is deconstructed in Deon's work and represent paradoxical conditions of today's society, where relativism and individualism have become the new and uncertain principles of our lives.

­ Bartholomew F. Bland, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

 


Exhibition Record | E-mail | Visual Art Home | Bio