Derek Boshier

By Odom, Michael | Artforum International, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

Derek Boshier


Odom, Michael, Artforum International


"Derek Boshier: The Texas Years" was an extensive survey of Boshier's paintings and graphic works produced between 1980, the year of his arrival in Houston from Britain, and 1995. Although he was an early participant in British Pop art, a combination of his political interests and esthetic restlessness led him to give up painting in favor of film and more conceptual work by the end of the '60s. That he selected the then-current neo-Expressionist style when he took up painting again indicates both a certain distance from his medium and a certain consistency of intention. Like the "fashion victims" in several of his pictures, the "stylishness" of style seems to hold more importance for Boshier than the particular style in itself.

Boshier directed a cool gaze against such regional stock characters as Klansmen and cowboys, often painting them nude, always rendering them in a wickedly overwrought neo-Expressionist impasto. The goopy paint and comical dancelike poses of the figures lend an archness, a blatant artificiality to these pictures: he is clearly a cultural voyeur who never quite connects with his subject but is content to spy and comment on some social value. In part this psychic distance issues from his point of view as a European among Texans. For example, Boshier's renderings of masked figures celebrating the Day of the Dead (an often-hackneyed Tex-Mex theme) benefit enormously from his ability to reference Ensor and Goya in a manner that links his work more to European art history than to New World subject matter.

However, Boshier's alienation extends beyond regional identities. …

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