This is not art for high minds, in high places and effete tastes. It is not about decorative value and academic study. This art is about amalgamation, observance, and relevance. In it one finds the thoughts of the artist, at least those he wishes to reveal. It is not a new thing that this should be the case; this is a new artist adept in the new techniques and the new symbologies.
“Door-to-Door: Walking through Street Art” is the examination of the themes of hip-hop, inclusion and surrealism in the art of Overstreet Ducasse.
While the entire subculture of Hip Hop is of questionable repute these days, the images of that subculture are most commercially viable, from DMX hawking sportswear to Tupac Shakur’s face being used to sell a myriad of ideas and products. In Ducasse’s paintings and constructions bling one of the currencies of Hip Hop is noticeably missing. The personage’s therein are meant to be icons. They come off the stage, up from the street and are “captured” on canvas and in mural. He seeks to ennoble them and presents them to the viewer with a more refined hauteur. The street arrogance becomes a kind noble pose. Make no mistake these are not the Dutch burghers in black with white ruffs, set in luxurious dark backgrounds, they confront the viewers head-on backgrounded in neutrals and whites.
That these performers should appear in these works is part and parcel of Ducasse’s oeuvre. That oeuvre has as its second theme inclusion. There are to be found within masks from Africa which inspired the early modernists and gave birth to cubism. The wooden doll figures that were found in the photos of Man Ray are referenced in a work of a seated wooden man in a room, in a room. Herb Ritts’ photograph of dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones is incorporated into a seascape. Basquiat’s revelries in color and graffiti are a source of connection. Then, of course, there are the street – signs – literal signs and made-up ones. Bob Marley, all things are grist for the mill or rather the brush.
Overstreet Ducasse once said in an interview, “The number one rule in art is that there are no rules”. Surrealists from Dali to Bob Thompson put that tenet into action and so does Ducasse, seas with men rising from them, a living African mask from which flows a sea with a man rising from it, a man from a green sea with hair as rays, juggling suns and a moon, and a working figurative factory. All these and others show a surrealistic theme. This IS a representation of the landscape of the mind. Ducasse’s mind seems to come back to the sea, to Africa via Haiti, to the black man in the world. These are his most intellectual images but not academically so. These show his intellect.
The Street in this exhibition is not just the one we ride or walk upon. This is not solely a figurative theme. It is the laying out of the mind -the thoughts- of OverStreet Ducasse.