Image: Spread from Charles Dunn & Gary Rough, Number 35, NYC, 2009
Essay in the form of a letter within catalogue publication for the exhibition Charles Dunn & Gary Rough, Number 35, NYC, 2009.
Dear Charles & Garry
There are those with a virtuous streak who attribute heightened value and worth to notions such as honesty, integrity and fairness. And as a consequence, or perhaps a perk, they view with derision and distain those who register as wayward according to their personal moral compass. Suspicion also extends to those whose behavior, though not discernibly immoral, appears somewhat covert or as a type of subterfuge. And nothing is as shifty as style. Style provides solace from the tyranny of content and conviction “style is a difference, a way of being, a way of being done.”1 It is the razor edge of the zeitgeist and seldom pretty in hindsight. That unexpected sage of the recent past, Bruce Lee – one who may appear to have labored a style – maintained that he had developed a meta-style: style beyond style. He fought with “no style,” he claimed, for “no style” is in fact the perfect style. Anyone who has been in a bar-room brawl understands the sentiment, style without style may get you out the door instead of style without substance being an elegant way to a broken nose. Style is the retreat to artifice, an affectation, the veil concealing an absence of content. The assumption that being liberated from style one is more forthright, candid, expressive, it becomes conflated to some extent with honesty. But for all its duplicitous conceit style is seductive. And this is why I write to you. I feel some type of dilemma. You are both vultures of style, picking over the bones of the canonical remnants. It is not the sophomoric riff of kitsch postmodern doggerel; as there is an unexpected honesty, pathos and compulsion in the work. It is potent with the intent and intensity of a meeting of abject nihilism and generosity. And unexpectedly there is honesty and a moral compulsion and sentiment which proceeds by implicating the entire structure and form of the drawing, it stupefies until you cry out into the night, “make your own fucking drawing.”...