Pictures at an exhibition

I probably learned from reading William F. Buckley as a teenager that a farrago is a confused mixture. I learn from reading New Criterion managing editor James Panero’s Spectator column “Hunter Biden: portrait of the scam artist” that New York Times critic at large Jason Farago gave Biden’s first solo exhibition the full review treatment.

The exhibition is entitled The Journey Home: A Hunter Biden Solo Exhibition. Farago reviewed it. You could make this stuff up, but nobody should believe you. Panero reports:

The Journey Home has been open “by invitation only” for just about its full run. Invitations have not been abundant. You will not find the show listed on the gallery website or given any sense of its start or end. After a vandal painted “Daddy” on the gallery walls in hairspray, it’s been a soft launch and soft close for the hard-living show. Instead the paparazzi have swarmed outside. Last month the political painter Scott LoBaido unveiled his “Portrait of the Scam Artist” on the street; the work depicts Biden painting doodles in bed with his crack pipe while collecting communist cash. But Biden, born again and again and again, has been undeterred. That’s what this show, at least for him, is all about. “Biden attempting to save his soul,” is how the critic Donald Kuspit has put it, “not simply express it.”

Panero’s review is no Farago (or farrago), but it is funny:

[W]hat you get are tattoo-like symbols of snakes, birds, dragons and Celtic writing all stenciled in gold pen. You read the saying by Joseph Campbell that “we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.” The pre-socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides of Elea informs us that “one path only is left for us to speak of, namely, that It is.” This one, also written in gold pen, appears on a painting featuring a bald female figure resembling the V’Ger robot from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

When Biden descends from this astral plane, he lets his paints run in bloody patterns. He drips out pointillist landscapes trip-trap. H[e] blows pigments into floral patterns, in particular across “Untitled #13” — arrangements that are inoffensive but inauthentic. The wild artist is falsely tamed.

You find a sweep of styles and techniques presented here across two floors, none of it dated, none with any sense of direction. But those works labeled “mixed media” seem to convey a truer artist. Here through computer manipulation, Biden has distorted images, mostly of himself. He prints them out and doodles on top of them. When I entered the exhibition, there was a velvet rope closing off the downstairs half of the show. At some point it came down and I descended. A gallerist followed close behind. “One of us has to be downstairs with you,” he explained, “just in case…you never know.” Here, in “Hockney,” we catch a glimpse of the pool of Biden’s Hollywood Hills home — and Ms. Cohen-Biden’s derriere floating therein. There it is again, in “Self Portrait,” behind some crystal schlock, another bikini-clad babe next to Biden, all covered in paint.

I can find no news of sales of the Hunter oeuvre more current than the New York Post story dated October 7.

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