Thursday, August 5, 2010


this appeared in Artspace Magazine, late 1980, in conjunction with Greg Tucker's show of post-prison riot drawings . . . a remarkable show.

Greg Tucker's show at the Meridian dares to show what it's like to be a man, the myth that we all are afraid to face. All of us men. That opening out of hate and love, that is peculiarly masculine, because it is fierce, brutal, and escapes all risks.

It is a show of tattooed men, what you do with your body in prison when there's nothing else to do. Transferred, in simple, bold thrust of minimum color, on small squares of paper. You move from paper to paper, with these images on them. A Christ "Born to Lose," "Fix," "Arbol de Juzgar," etc. And then the images of the penitentiary riot, the messages of directed violence on the walls, kill this guy or that guy, cut off that guy's prick—a show of such manageable drawings, manageable because the drawings aren't that big and the terror diminishes as you walk away, and yet it's not terror. Some drawings are of masks, or bodies without heads, or just a scrawl like a cross-out, on the square of paper, or numbers through 9, backwards.

It is the rage of being independently male, in a body trapped in prison where the puberty rite of the tough edge you only show, comes bursting out. That puberty rite of the tough edge only showing, as you walk along or do anything, the boy-man learns in Junior High.

Greg Tucker shows these images of that pushed-out toughness, the lump-in-the-throat terror that we guys have to go through, either do or duck, shit or get off the pot, kill or die—or escape. The escape of the trapped, no matter what they were or who they were, they are, there, climbing the walls to get out.

For art to show this is remarkable—and remain art. It isn't art overridden by statement. I think it is Greg Tucker's sensibility of the pen riot, tattoos, graffiti caught in the process of his own drawing. And the energy continues from them as you look at them. It isn't the stupid knife-edge painless hurt of so many contemporary popular movies, that just make you hurt if you can do that anymore, but the small squares of drawings you enter like entering a cell, to see what goes on in that prisoner's mind or body. And more than that, it is an expression of what all men have to face, suffering all the while through it, a trap door on the way to manhood that can trap you and never let you out. If you get trapped, it's the rigamarole of proving your toughness round and round, egged on by "buddies" that it's okay, until you believe the game and play it till you kill or maim or get back at, as if that would end it, and it never does.

It's a rotten game that few women know, that is at the core of the independent male, who travels through it until some kinder register of what life can be, begins to settle in. These drawings are extremes of what is as common as the human male, a stage of his development, or trapped in itself, the horror of everything gone wrong and every act can only be the further extension of wrong, wrong into wrong, a mass wipe-out.

But it's only drawing, it's only writing. Drawing, writing on the wall.

—Larry Goodell
Greg Tucker, drawings. 1980
published in Artspace Magazine, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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