This past summer I had the pleasure of visiting painter Tim Doud’s studio in Washington D.C. Tim is an Associate Professor at American University’s Department of Art and his studio is located in a building slightly off campus where all full time Department of Art faculty members have their own private studio.
Tim greeted me on that hot, muggy summer day along with Bruno, his adorable French bulldog who seemed quite happy being in the position of ‘studio dog’. In spite of not having any windows, Tim’s studio is spacious and airy with high ceilings and bright lights, and most importantly at the time, very good air conditioning. What could easily have been a sterile office building space, the studio was perfectly homey as Bruno roamed around happily, blue pacifier in mouth, from one part of the studio to the next.
His studio was organized to accommodate two distinctly different projects as well as ample storage for older works. On one side of his studio were his portraits; a body of work Tim has been working on for a number of years and one most people are familiar with. The large wall on the left side was taken over by a series of portraits of his friend Rodney posed in different outfits. It was nice to recognize a familiar face (I had met Rodney during a holiday he took with Tim to Berlin the summer of 2013) peering down at me dressed in a variety of attire. They reminded me of Renaissance portraits where the head and shoulders of the religious aristocracy gazed at the viewer with vapid eyes decked out in the most poshest of clothing. But they also recall Alice Neal whose paintings of people seem often times distorted in the abstracted spaces they occupy and described with a type of artificial light source that was uncomfortably unnatural.
“The Rodney series…is a vanity issue, (a vanity portrait is meant to look good – whatever that means in the culture or to the individual being portrayed). In the case of the Rodney series, vanity is not about likeness. In his case it’s not about which side looks best or whether he looks handsome or thin enough, but the presentation of the clothing (down to the lighting). He chooses to be represented in clothing that is feminine or androgynous.”
Tim explained to me his interest in portraiture is giving the sitter the choice to create their own personae through their wardrobe. It wasn’t about him psychologizing them as they sat for him for hours upon hours, but about the decisions his sitters make to create their own representation or identity, through dress. Each person he invites to sit chooses what to wear.
On the other side of his studio, a newer project of abstract paintings took over the space. On the walls, tables and floor were numerous works on various surfaces blending appropriated popular culture iconography with famous fashion designer patterns such as Burberry and Paul Smith. From prints, paintings on paper to the paintings on canvas. They are eye popping candy indulgences that compel one to think of them as objects of desire. Tim successfully puts forth the idea of objectifying the painting as a consumable commodity and yet manages to do it without being trite or too referential to Andy Warhol and Pop art. (He does have one painting with the iconic screen print of Che Guevara in the style of Andy Warhol as a Burberry pattern). Now that’s a must-have!
Tim is prolific, hard working, and completely enthusiastic about his work. Although his paintings are labor intensive, Tim addresses his work and studio practice with utter joy and optimism. I am pleased to have been able to show a suite of his Paul Smith inspired works on paper at a salon exhibit in Berlin in 2013. Since then, the work has evolved and grown exponentially in scale and complexity in pattern and now they do not merely mimic the pattern, but allude to them. They in turn create a degree of illusion that in the end, are faux designer patterns, but most importantly, a Tim Doud original. The last two work are from this past spring including a finished painting of Rodney that I had seen in progress last summer.
To see more of his work and upcoming exhibitions, go to his website at www.timdoud.net.