Art in America

Wayne Paige at Gallery K

Art in America, March-April, 1979

There is nothing delicate about the daytime nightmares that Wayne Paige assembles in a mixture of mediums: newspaper, wire, painted papier mache and pastel drawing on paper, all boxed in plexiglass.  With battered raised borders and roughly drawn centralized illustrations, these rectangular constructions resemble deformed tavern trays, and their subject matter is equally loony.  Earth is under attack: maddened monsters for outer space create havoc, while terrorized Earthlings cry out, wave their arms and (unsuccessfully, one fears) attempt to flee.  The kicker is that the monsters seem to have more to do with indigestion than invasion: on one case, it’s a giant pickle on the rampage.  Enormous chickens parachute from the sky: “Killer Warts” advance on the city; and then there’s “The Beast with Dirty Feet” It’s like a bad dram after on old horror movie on TV: the ads get mixed up with the action, and the menace that’s missing is the heartbreak of psoriasis.  To drive the point home, titles (mostly abominable puns or rhymes and is Yard Pool Drool) are lettered into the pictures, providing another level the visual assault.  The colors shriek too: sour reds and purples, acid yellow, poison green.  The drawing is energetically crude, the broad fuzzy stroke of the pastel well suited to the shaky perspective and uncertain anatomy.  The subtlety lies in Paige’s ability to orchestrate these tacky horrors.  He fine-tunes the awfulness, playing off one excess against the other, and like the bore at the party, the pictures blurt out variations of the same bad joke. Note polite, perhaps.  But then, that’s not the point.