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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quentin Tarantino vs. the Coen Brothers: Fine Art Deathmatch

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Steve Seeley's "Four Eyes" - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • Steve Seeley's "Four Eyes"
This month, Spoke Art Gallery presents "Quentin vs. Coen," a show that consists of more than100 artists picking sides in the greatest-cult-film-director-ever debate and campaigning for their candidate in paint, print, and sculpture.

The resulting walls are lined floor to ceiling with likenesses of Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi, guns, vulvas, and blood spatters. The show incites viewers to ask those deep questions art is supposed to inspire: What blunt-trauma weapon would you rather arm yourself with, a captive bolt pistol or a mace? Is Uma Thurman sultrier as a coked-out dancing queen in Pulp Fiction or as a vengeful yellowjacket in Kill Bill?

More interesting, however, than pitting Tarantino against the Coens was the treasure hunt for parallels between their films. One piece that caught my eye was a two-panel set of portraits by Evanimal featuring Big Dan (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and Rooster Cogburn (True Grit).

Evanimal's portraits inspired by Coen films. - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • Evanimal's portraits inspired by Coen films.
Seen only in silhouette, their identities are revealed by their matching eye-patches. Oddly, the Coens' rendition of Cogburn wears his patch over his right eye, matching Big Dan, instead of following John Wayne's precedent in the 1969 True Grit of wearing it over his left. Elle Driver of Kill Bill also wears her patch over the right eye. Art historical lesson learned: if you're going to become a one-eyed badass, make sure you lose your right eye, not your left.

My favorite pieces went a step beyond rote fandom and adapted the black humor of the chosen film to the two-dimensional surface. San Francisco's own Serge Gay Jr. made an impression with his take on Reservoir Dogs, in which he painted the cast with canine heads. There's an eerily close resemblance between the Mr. Pink dog and Steve Buscemi.

The Reservoir Dogs, courtesy of San Francisco's Serge Gay, Jr. - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • The Reservoir Dogs, courtesy of San Francisco's Serge Gay, Jr.
(Gay, Jr, will be showing at Spoke Art again when it reopens in August after renovations.)

Up Next: The Dude on a tapestry

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About The Author

Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.


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