The collaboration between California based artist Tony Gaddis and St Louis graphic designer Eric Tilford reflects not only the interaction of two visual approaches, but also a blending of the diverging styles and attitudes of fine art and design. By examining both technique and content the duo engages broad issues that stem from an "old-fashioned" critical distinction between these disciplines. Gaddis and Tilford work in cyanotype, or blueprint. The medium was first introduced in 1842 and often used by late 19th-century photographers to proof negatives, relates also to the artist's subject matter, which is replete with art-historical references. The artists combine drawing and text with numerous appropriated and computer enhanced images, typically from famous, but occasionally relatively obscure works of Hellenistic art. They invoke the pervading sense of movement and time and place with titles like California or Interstate. The pieces recall Joseph Campbell’s seemingly contradictory journey of the hero as Everyman, which is here reconfigured as a kind of post-adolescent wanderlust. In Good Weekend (2002) the profile of the messenger god Mercury emerges from a blurred image of Laocoon, the Hellenistic sculpture depicting the anguished death of the priest of Troy. His struggling eldest son, Antiphas, is overlaid with a quasi-pornographic line-drawing in which the pierced nipples of a female converge with those of the dying soon. There are recurring elements of maps in the work, as well as arrows evoking weather pattern symbols: they are replete with quickly sketched figures that describe a circulatory system flowing directly from head to heart, tellingly positioned over the genitals. Red Bull (2002) is a tour-de-force of the expressive qualities of cyanotype, with gradations of blue resembling color-field painting. A one-to-one scale image of Giovanni Montorsoli's 1563 marble sculpture Reclining Ran (itself a historicizing work) lies on the ocean floor, blowing cartoon bubbles that contain sexual scenes, cars, and drivers all ascending into the white space at the top of the work. Nearly imperceptible drawings strewn around Pan depict such items as crashed airplanes, martini glasses, chandeliers, and cars. These icons of motion and hedonism form striking metaphors of the artists' concept of the unstable nature of time, style, and heroic myth.

-Jeffrey Hughes, Art on Paper


cyanotype prints by Anthony Gaddis & Eric Tilford 


See Through Walls exhibit posters