photo & text by nacrowe
recently came across the documentary FOR NO GOOD REASON (SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, 2012) which loosely follows the career of the legendary BRITISH painter/visual artist RALPH STEADMAN through a series of interview with JOHNNY DEPP. with little surprise, much of the oxygen in the room is taken up with talk of his famous collaboration with AMERICAN writer and GONZO journalist HUNTER S. THOMPSON who passed away less than a decade before its filming. but not all of it.
what this film made me appreciate was the full context of STEADMAN's work and how bitingly political much of it was. its as if he took the turbulent, introspective psychological machinations of FRANCIS BACON's work and projected it outward onto a corrupt AMERICAN political apparatus that was not expecting that level vitriol and outright bile. what is also just as interesting is STEADMAN's questioning of the purpose of his work, since these warmongering capitalist structures have perpetuated themselves unabated through a new generation, his efforts to change the world inevitably failing. that lingering question is something that all artists, protestors and community organizers deal with at some point, if not constantly.
in the post-TRUMP (or perhaps pre-TRUMP empire) era it is a concern that feels particularly prescient and of-the-moment. what can art do in the face of raw power? his paintings are visceral and unwaveringly detailed to the pain and suffering of the war-torn, malnourished and forgotten victims of war as only someone like GOYA could attest beforehand in centuries past.
for what purpose if no one is listening? if no one cares outside of their own self-interest? there must be a good reason to create, provoke and progress. i just dont know it yet.