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Sunday 10.02.05

« Froelick Gallery at the Affair by Jen Rybolt | Main | Solomon Fine Art by Jen Rybolt »

Well Within the Realm... A Casual Conversation with Hamza Walker


The back-story for this interview is that I met Hamza in Cincinnati as a graduate student. He was a guest lecturer in our visiting artists program and sat in on critiques for a couple of days. I bumped into him again at the Affiar, I'm transcribing this conversation as faithfully as I can remember it...

Isaac: Hi Hamza, do you remember me from Cincinnati? I was on the visiting artists committee and we went out to dinner after your lecture. My name is Isaac.

Hamza: Oh yeah! What was that place called?

Isaac: Biagio's

Hamza: That's right.

Isaac: Some of your critiques became the stuff of legend in Cincinnati.

Hamza: Oh really?

Isaac: Yeah, there was a color field painter you were critiquing and you told him to look at Frank Frazetta. He was totally mystified. He thought you were referring to a less well known color field painter he'd never heard of.

Hamza: Man, when you mention Frazetta, you're talking universal appeal.

Isaac: I know. It's the lowest common denominator.

Hamza: Really! Conan the Barbarian! Come on!

Isaac: Yeah, after you left it took him all year to figure it out. He was an undergraduate and too young for Conan at its apex.

Hamza: That should have been well within his realm of adolescent male mastery.

Isaac: None of the teachers could give him any guidance either. I think he probably found out who Frazetta was but thought that he must be mistaken. But I knew what you were getting at.

Hamza: That painting was dramatic, atmospheric and tempestuous, like a Frazetta cloudscape illuminated by a lightning bolt.

Isaac: Right, it would have been easy to envision Conan slaying a serpent in the foreground. But he didn't see it that way...

Hamza: He was thinking that Frazetta would be like another Rothko. Which would be incredible if that actually were your project as an artist! Creating a link between Frazetta and Rothko. Can you imagine legitimizing Frazetta? That would be a supreme accomplishment. You would have forever created a space for yourself in Art History.

Isaac: The realm of your adolescent male mastery would infinitely expand...

Hamza: Or, go further than Frazetta! Can you imagine legitimizing...oh what's the other one? He's just like Frazetta only more sexual. He speaks more directly to male sexual fantasy...

Isaac: Boris Vallejo?

Hamza: Yeah, can you imagine legitimizing Boris Vallejo in contemporary art? That would be a supreme achievement, as well as a profound exploration of the meaning of male sexuality.

Isaac: Isn't he team painting with someone now? Like a female alter ego. I can't remember her name... (Her name is Julie Bell)


Hamza: Yeah! And the weird thing is, she looks like one of the women from his paintings! She was a former body builder.

Isaac: It's like Pygmalion.

Hamza: The manifestation of male adolescent desire. Do you know Berni Wrightson?

Isaac: Of course! Remember the early Swamp Thing with Berni Wrightson and Alan Moore? Those issues were a revolution in comics. The first of the literate form. And it just kept going, centered around Alan Moore. The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman...


Hamza: I have all of those! I have all of the early Swamp Things, from number one until Moore and Wrightson quit. In mint condition.

Isaac: Wow! Have you checked the blue book on those lately?

Hamza: I can't bring myself to look.

Isaac: They are really valuable.

Hamza: I know. Acquiring those Swamp Things was my first curatorial experience. I got into them about issue 10 and the back issues were already growing quickly in value. I had to ask my dad for 60 dollars to acquire the back issues, and convince him that it was a sound investment. Eventually I was able to win him over, and I still have all of them in mint condition!

And the rest of the conversation descends into supreme comic nerdom... the realm of adolescent male mastery...

Posted by Isaac Peterson on October 02, 2005 at 17:49 | Comments (0)


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