Click the thumbnails to see a larger version of the painting.
You walk in, there is a huge paneled work that, at first glimpse, conjures up the obvious comparison to Jean-Michel Basquiat. A large, flowing 10- panel panorama, Jiwar is punctuated with Jungian motifs: phallic fingers, anguished faces, eyes, scribbled messages, yawning mouths and teeth.
They are intricately layered with pen scribbling, including Arabic text, children’s drawings, cartoonish noodling, and layers of expressionist dribbling. I looked closely for quasi-ironic references that usually accompany text in artwork. Nope. The closest I came was on the third panel, a tiny scribbled pen-and-ink equation, buried under layers of paint: Moose = Bullwinkle. But even the handwriting seems painstakingly applied.
The panels, actually, wouldn’t look bad in a living room, but that’s not what they are about. It’s all about process: what must have been a whopping, frustrating, painstaking, and revelatory assembly of memories, scribbles, mystical texts, and nightmares.
I started looking around for the artist, expecting to find a chainsmoking wide-eyed mystic in the corner clutching a bottle of vodka. That’s not what I found. Tom Block is a family man, living in DC, with a firm handshake, a Long Island accent (at least that’s what I heard), and a sense of humor.
from a review by John Barry