Lou Beach is known for his collage illustrations, one of the masters of the comic side of this surreal artform. Now, he’s doing the images in the gallery world, another kind of sur-reality. His current exhibition, the apocalyptic “End of Days,” opens at the Jack Fischer Gallery (1275 Minnesota St., San Francisco) and runs from Aug. 13 to Sept. 10. I asked Beach what the work is all about.
“WESTWARD HO, OH WILDERNESS,” mixed media, 25×22.5,” 2016
What makes this work different from what you’ve done in the past?If you are referring to the distant past when I worked primarily as an illustrator, this new work is all hand-made and under no editorial dictates; it’s personal work. If you mean how does it differ from my collages of the last few years, I can only say that my work is evolving. As a 69-year-old “emerging artist,” I am following my damaged neural paths into uncharted territory. I’ve only begun revisiting physical collages in the last half dozen years or so.
Is there a theme to what you are showing?The title of the current show is “End Of Days” and it is a continuation of a theme I explored in a solo show I had two months ago in Santa Monica titled “A Plague of Fools.” In a nutshell, both exhibits reflect my jaundiced view [of the] human endeavor.
Why collage in the first, second and third place?It may be apocryphal, but my mother told me that I was left alone in my crib as a toddler with piles of newspapers and magazines, which I would tear into pieces; print media as babysitter. I don’t draw or paint much other than adding details to the collages or doodling on the margins of The New York Times crossword page while grasping for answers.
“Poltroons on Parade (Pigeon! Pigeon! Pigeon!)” mixed media, 33×26,” 2016
What do you hope the audience will take away?I hope they take away the collages and leave behind checks.
What do you hope you will get out of this show?I’ll get a nice trip to San Francisco. Each show is another notch to bolster my newfound reputation as a gallery artist and hopefully will enable me to continue exhibiting. I’ll be in a group show in Ithaca, NY, and a solo show in Chicago in March 2017. I received a Pollock-Krassner Grant this year, and every show helps make the case for endowments. Also, I’m getting more used to the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach before each show.
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