Larry Caveney

Larry Caveney

When you think about my portrait paintings, you first need to think about four-month-old babies. They can barely tell a circle from a square, yet they already know their own mother’s face.

Meantime, an adult can pick out a face from nearly any angle, or in lousy lighting. It turns out the human mind has some serious hardware for recognizing faces. And this affects how we look at art.

So what do we look at? When we’re four months old, it’s mostly mom. But when we’re adults, it’s mostly celebrities – mass media does a million-dollar job of constantly getting them in our face. That, along with facial recognition, is why we know them all by heart, and buy their stuff.

So what does any of this have to do with my portraits? – Just ripping off Francis Bacon, right? Wrong. Bacon screwed up his faces for shock value. I’m after bigger game – I’m using Bacon-like moves to explore what happens when the shit of pop culture hits the fan of human face perception.

We shouldn’t recognize any of these mangled mugs. But we do. That’s scary.
Can art-whose practice often is considered a luxury, and whose product, at least in recent years, may be considered solely for its market value-have any appreciable impact on the lives of people struggling merely to survive? Finally, can art function as a kind of operating theater in which the often polarized segments of a community come together to create something not seen yet.