Todd Weiner Gallery
Steve Pistone - Masks
September 4th - October 31st, 2020
(No Public First Friday Events)
Steve Pistone’s new drawings are undoubtedly fresh, painstakingly detailed, outrageously fun, deadly serious, and loaded with meaning. As artists across the ages often do, Pistone taps into society's newest phenomenon and takes us on a psychological rollercoaster ride with his newest work “Masks”. Artist and mask have a long-standing relationship that is perhaps as old as civilization itself. Pistone Invokes this inseparable bond between artist and mask and documents our current reality. As some have argued, the sole function of real art is to reflect our world back to us like a mirror while sparking the engine of the mind to think it’s the way forward to a new understanding of our conditions. Pistone does just that! His expansive and varied body of drawings transcends and discombobulates time. With a full measure of anachronism, the work asks us to consider “what if we put a mask on everyone who ever lived?” This proposition appears humorous on the surface but strikes a deeper, even political psychology upon close examination.
The history of masks is an almost universal one through the world and is absolutely bursting with social issues both benevolent and sinister. Masks have been used throughout history for a variety of reasons from protection to disguise, ceremony, and entertainment. Their use in ritual alone is enough to write a book on. Used by indigenous cultures they often signify transformations and aid in the performance of storytelling. From initiation ceremonies to burial masks to religious practices, masks have played a significant role in almost every culture on earth. They’ve been used for protection from disease and in times of war. They’ve been used as devices of control and punishment for slaves and prisoners. They’ve been used as symbols of humiliation for women and outcasts as well as a disguise for aristocrats and criminals. Perhaps we know them best in modern times as accessories of entertainment and theater. Whatever their use, masks are undoubtedly a significant part of the human story.
Pistone brings together all of this history and uses it in a bold artistic act to literally transform portraiture itself. The viewer is subtly bombarded with questions by these drawings and forced to consider the nature of our current reality. Steve Pistone is a Kansas City artist with a long history of experimentation, working in multiple mediums from pen and ink to wire sculpture. His work is always engaging and meticulously crafted. Among these portraits, you will find a wide variety of figures from local living personalities to famous historical ones. This ever-growing body of work includes Jim Leedy, Superman, Darth Vader, Uncle Sam, Kiss, Salvador Dali, Karl Marx, and even King Tut. These abstract portraits are precisely constructed using ink and mixed media on card with all the flare that Pistone is known for. It’s hard not to admire this body of artwork - it delivers a full buffet of aesthetic pleasures and intellectual discourse.