When the designs are chosen with care, tattoos have
a power and magic all their own. They decorate the body but they also
enhance the soul.
Tattoo art has been clasped to the bosom of the art world precisely
because of its intercession between the arenas of popular and high
culture. The symbolism and impact of tattoos varies in different places
and cultures. Anglicized from the Polynesian tatau
and Tahitian tatu
tattoos have served as rites of passage, marks of status and rank,
symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery,
sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment,
amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves
The iconic imagery of the tattoo subculture is
easily accessible to even the most casual viewer, with its own distinct
formal tradition and compositional canon. Plumes of smoke turn into
devils and grinning skulls cover the bodies like a Gothic cornucopia;
organic forms spiral abstractly over and around human limbs; pin-up
girls and angels alike wink coyly from biceps; names and faces of the
dead stretch and fold as skin ages and sags.
When the imagery of the tattoo is isolated from the human canvas, or
when the “tattooed” becomes the subject of art, the ink can become a
distinct portrait of the subject, revealing histories, ethnicities,
personality quirks, fetishes, addictions, conquests, allegiances, and
tragedy. This show presents the tattoo and the tattooed within the
realm of fine art, providing a vivid and expansive portrait of the
culture of the tattoo.
The show will open June 16th, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Kathleen Cullen Fine
Arts. The exhibition will include works by Max Snow, Crumb, Tom of
Finland , Patrick Lee, Lina Bertucci, Richard Renaldi, Aaron Cobbett,
Assume Vivid Astro-Focus, Ted Nemeth, Ron Athey, Kiki Smith, Alix
Tattoo will be open from June 16th through July 28th at Kathleen Cullen
Fine Arts at 526 West 26th Street, #605, New York, NY. There will be an
opening reception on Tuesday, June 16th from 7 – 9pm.