Stu Mead

The Horse Hospital

Stu Mead’s paintings touch the art world at a tangent. Not that he’s exactly an outsider, having received a formal art education. But the Berlin-based American has a bigger reputation in “underground” culture than on the established art scene. Maybe that’s because his paintings are unabashedly (one could even say sincerely) about their subject matter rather than about art. That the subject matter Mead is drawn to is entirely disreputable—girls, often conspicuously underage, as objects of desire—is a separate issue. From Francis Picabia through David Salle to John Currin, pornographic imagery has hardly been alien to contemporary painting, but the game has always been to détourne that imagery to specifically artistic ends even while drawing on its power to offend. Mead, by contrast, matter-of-factly concedes that his work is pornographic, describing his paintings as “masturbatory images.”

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