Artist makes viewers squirm and squint
By ERIC GALLIPPO
Fans of the surreal and absurd who wander into Craig Linderman’s show at the Lansing Art Gallery with a straight face and casual eye should have a pleasant enough experience. Melting faces, random floating objects, mysterious human forms and strange landscapes dominate many of the canvases.
But they won’t see everything Linderman put there unless they’re willing to work a little harder. Combining a love for subconscious indulgence, a la Salvador Dali, and M.C. Escher-style optical illusion, Linderman packs his pictures with layers of images meant to give a sculptural feel to his twodimensional pieces. He goads the viewer to look upside down and sideways, step forward or back, or squint for a closer reading.
“I always was bored with artwork that was readily understandable,” Linderman says. “I like stuff that keeps you looking, keeps you guessing.”
Entering the exhibit and moving to the left, viewers will first encounter multicolored prints meant to work from at least two, and sometimes as many as four, sides.
Bright, comicbook-like colors are broken into planes by thick black lines and patches of shadow. Human forms, faces and features poke through planes fragmented by inanimate objects such as a shadeless lamp and candlesticks.
In a bad trip called “Stuff on my Mind,” a river runs over a ledge that forms a human face with a wagging tongue, which in turn becomes a woman’s posterior.
“Disturbing effects cause confusion and make it difficult for the eye to rest,” Linderman says. “The work comes alive, and often demands that the viewers adjust their proximity, tilt their heads from side to side, glare through eyelashes, walk past the work, or even look upside down to find a surprise or new visual experience.” Step back from the prints or move to one side and other images begin to pop out. Human anatomy fades into landscape and vice versa. In “This Side Up,” the title of the piece is buried among lines and colors woven into what looks like some sort of industrial equipment.
In the large print, “Michelangelo’s Crucifix,” bizarre, whimsical marks give way to a close-cropped image of the original work for which the piece is named.
Local viewers may catch a glimpse of a local hero in “Logoagonomo” — if they stand on their heads. As it’s hung, the drawing looks to be an arbitrary mash-up of empty cans, fantastic animals, human faces, diamonds and tree branches. Flip the image and back up a few feet, and you’re staring into the mug of gruff, or “party,” Sparty, the haggard looking Michigan State University athletics mascot shelved in recent years in favor of the classier “S” and silhouette of a Spartan helmet.
Linderman, 35, says the imagery in his work comes from his subconscious, as one shape morphs into another. “The imagery is basically the story of my life,” Linderman says. “All the images are things I’ve seen. It’s pretty off the cuff and nonsensical at times.
First and foremost, art has to be fun for me.” Linderman, who lives in Brighton and teaches in the
P l y m o u t h - C a n t o n school district, says he gets a daily grounding in fun. “Sometimes just cutting construction paper and gluing, going back to the basics, it sort of reminds you of how it all started and the joy there is and of the earliest art I ever created,” he says. He has since traded his glue and scissors for photocopiers, digital imaging software and the Internet to research, reproduce and alter images to include in his work in the hopes of producing something original.
“Part of my drive is to further the course of art,” Linderman says. “I don’t think I’m there yet, but that’s part of my goal.”