Endless pages of handwritten scrawl, paintings and drawings mesh together in this 1,000-page book, a modern-day bible of esoteric confessions. Urban life, in all its ugly, beauteous glory, is displayed like a dead animal lying on the side of the road. You don’t want to look-- it’s overwhelming and messy. But you can’t help it. The story sucks you in, and there you are: standing over a long table covered with black-and-white Galaxy Paper, thumbing through a book of paintings and words with white gloves on. Painfully honest diary entries read like poetry. “One day I awoke and looked at my wife and said ‘I had a dream.’” If every second of the day is art, why am I not recording it ferociously like Andy Moore?
View of Andy Moore's John's Luv at Gallery 400. Image used by permission.
Andy Moore’s book, John’s Luv, exposes the inner world of an artist working up the nerve to show his stuff to the world. From start to finish, doubt and struggle are conveyed through exposed revisions. There are the passages covered with Wite-Out and then written over, and painted pages collaged over, plus new pages taped over with previously written and illustrated pages. Where does art begin and where does it end? Perhaps art is infinite, like a circle, with beginnings and endings intrinsically interwoven. The book itself is a big, hot mess. In between the corrections and bandaged-up imperfections is a man coming to terms with art and love. Moore shows viewers that art is not out of reach. It is rife with mistakes, with starts and stops and returns and revisions. Art is like life, full of errors and trials, and life is richer when you examine it.
Although the writing in John’s Luv is fictional, it reads and feels like a diary. Daily interactions and the mundane are intermingled with thoughts on death, illness, marriage, solitude, sex and urban vicissitudes. John takes a trip to Home Depot with his wife, and she remarks on the teller’s coldness. John says it’s because his wife is white, and the teller is black, and doesn’t she realize the city is rife with racial tension? In another scene, you see the main character receiving fellatio depicted in the loneliness of Edward Hopper, with an X-rated porno film twist. Or, John finds out from his doctor he has bronchitis. “You’ll live,” the doctor says. “I don’t think so,” says John. Romance, fear, loneliness and anger are wrapped up into this big book that viewers can spend a lot of time pagin through. Moore doesn’t hold back or censor himself, and it’s this honesty that makes John’s Luv worth viewing.
There are four paintings present in the same room as the book. I like Unfathomable 1, seen above, for its rich gold color and heavy texture. It reminds me of a medieval goblet. Unfathomable 4 is quirky and odd and captures my attention. The amoeba-like figure resembles a spaceship or friendly alien figure, a disembodied terrestrial being floating through dark space.
The paintings are interesting but I prefer the blood and guts of John’s Luv. It’s gory in the way it shows the fragility and insecurity of the human psyche. It’s vulnerable, hopeful and dares a bit more than the usual tame artwork I see. If I could take it home, I would look at it every night, just two pages at a time, and I would feel better before going to bed. I will know there is another soul in this city that makes mistakes and just keeps trying, just like me.
Art is painful and difficult, and full of doubt, Moore tells us with his messy book. The reward of art is coming into touch with your true self. “He said just now. Just today. I don’t want to be your friend….So the day sucked.” Moore takes the mundane and spins it into something contemplative, proving that the first step toward creativity is just daring to write the stuff down.