The Drawers - Thomas Ackermann  Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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With an uninhibited brashness of line and characterization, Ackermann interprets current events to present a cynical rendition of the powers-that-be as they conduct their pomp and ceremony from a convoluted platform rife with biblical, historical and sociological inferences. Witty and irreverent, Tom Ackermann's commentary is scathing and prophetic all in one fell messy swoop.

It might take time to understand the exact reference (for instance as to 'Cain and Able' in the double headed man) but the impression of fouled iconography is immediate. The energy has been changed from an image that is recognizable to a smirched version. The message inherent in the icon alters as Ackermann places it in a context that transforms the original message (eg: Pope equals holiness) into a message that is antithetical to the original (eg: Pope with 9/11 is an icon overlaid with a symbol that causes suspicion as to the sanctity). The recognizable is not always respectable as in Abu Ghraib, The New World Order where the malignant reigns from the outset and a deathly executioner, with an axe raised to chop, backs up the atrocities in the foreground. As the dense scribble of black charcoal further defiles the already black images that have been imprinted on our contemporary consciousness through the media, the shock is underscored by the title.

In Able of War, the soldier juxtaposed with the naked man (Tom in the buff) have a particularly poignant relationship. The brotherly biblical characters, conjoined as Able, never reconcile except through self destruction. The two headed Able grasps the hand of the vulnerable naked man and the clothed soldier’s uniform denotes his rank and social status.

Ackerman's work could be read as unendingly negative were it not for the strength of execution of these pictures. There is a man behind the scenes who is ready to conquer the rats, dragons and power mongers. The force behind the gesture that pushes the medium - be it paint, charcoal, pen or latex rubber - around the pristine white page seems sufficiently strong to conquer these demonic trends. There is hope in the outcome of the scenarios as Tom Ackermann banishes the blackness by brandishing his artful sword.

Copyright © 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers