san francisco art magazine archives

Keith Boadwee is poignant. Keith Boadwee is fabulous and a bad-ass. Keith Boadwee's art has been critically acclaimed and well-reviewed by the art press for nearly a decade. Keith Boadwee studied with Paul McCarthy in Los Angeles. 

Keith Boadwee is revolting. Keith Boadwee's work arouses me, and scares me; and makes me feel dirty and perverted.

What to do with Keith Boadwee?

Well, if you are curator Mariah Robertson at Lair of the Minotaur (26th and Mission), you give him a show, which is not surprising in and of itself. 

Keith Boadwee has lived in New York and Los Angeles. Keith Boadwee is a photographer. When I enter the show, he drops hard-core names of who he has studied/collaborated/shown with in L.A.

Let's talk frankly about Boadwee's work past and present. 

Keith Boadwee is a shit-kicker, a revolutionary, a shock-seeker. While his medium of photography could seem provincial, his application is raw, gutting, quasi-pornographic...

(There, I finally said it.)

Keith Boadwee is a performance artist. The lens of the camera serves as his stage. His naked manipulated body serves as his weapon. Ten years ago, while the NEA laid floundering under the Congressional knife for legitimacy, Keith Boadwee birthed his public career in L.A. by crafting abstract impressionistic paintings by shooting paint enemas out of his ass. His process photographs of him squatting in violent mid-stream helped put L.A. on the map as one of the players in the current art scene. Keith Boadwee went on to do shows at LA MOCA: highly stylized pictures of his anus in multiply painted colors... pictures of Keith Boadwee in many compromising positions with various and sundry objects projecting from his multi-pigmented anus...

Keith Boadwee has a Freudian disposition, but what Keith also shares in his past works with artists such as Maplethorpe is the power to use stylization, symmetry, and aesthetic to draw the viewer in to his web of shock. Here is the emotional process of an uninitiated viewer with early Boadwee works:

a.) first impression: register of clean, well-crafted lines, vibrant color, abstract beauty.

b.) second impression: realization of actual subject matter. (that beautiful low-light is a puckered anus;) horror...

c.) struggle to rectify the beauty of the first with the shock of the second.

In the late 90's, Keith Boadwee moves from L.A. to San Francisco. Keith Boadwee eschews his photographers, and stylists, buys a digital camera and compatible printer, and strips his technique from highly stylized and aesthetic to new works with more contemporary themes.

Where once Keith used his craft to mock the past (abstract impressionistic painters), Keith is making commentary on current pop trends: namely, the whole teen superstar phenomenon in the current music industry. Keith's naked body is now accessorized by little girl's panties, quilts, furry animal suits, hair dryers, and Eminem and Britney Spears t-shirts...

Eminem, Britney, and Keith- sex, violence, and 3 pairs of sad little eyes.

While writing a book review, Abraham Lincoln once said, "If this is the sort of thing one likes, then one will certainly like this sort of thing," which is about where I am with the new works of Keith Boadwee.

I have questions, lots of questions. Why the huge change of style? Why did you really leave L.A.? Why have you decided to show again? Can somebody explain this art genre to me without having to hide behind 4-syllable words of academia?


It's a hard conflicting lot being a cheerleader for Keith Boadwee, but probably not as hard or conflicting as it is being Keith Boadwee.

---Christopher Stout