Paint with Words: The Unusual Canvases of Wayne White

Paint with Words: The Unusual Canvases of Wayne White

Nancy Mitchell
Apr 19, 2013

Last week, the post I wrote about updating paintings you find at the thrift store sparked a lively debate about the nature of art. What is true Art, and what's just kitsch? Straddling the line between the two is artist Wayne White, whose Word Paintings turn mundane found landscapes into something different entirely, and might, if you look closely enough, even make you think differently about the meanings of the words themselves. 

White doesn't just paint words on top of old paintings — he paints them into old paintings, with all the appropriate reflections and shadows. Suddenly the cavases are transformed from boring landscapes into ironically grandiose backdrops for seemingly bizarre or meaningless phrases ("Nixon," "Honey Where's My Learnin' Books," "Dude or Chick," "Aw C'Mon") that loom large over the landscape. 

Seeing these words, rendered larger than life and divorced from any apparent meaning, I start to wonder what words actually mean, anyway. Is the NIXON in the lake in front of the barn just some strange sculpture? Or is there some meaning inherent in those particular shapes? But I guess that's the idea of art — to make you think. Or is it?

You can see many many more of these canvases on Wayne White's website. (I enjoyed that alliteration.) You also order the DVD of the movie about White's work, Beauty is Embarassing, or watch it on Amazon instant video. And a big tip of the hat to Apartment Therapy reader hippopo, who alerted me to Wayne's oeuvre in a comment on last week's post about thrift store art

(Images: Wayne White)

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