HotTea’s “Perspective” on Jasper Johns and “Flags” on his 90th/ Dispatch From Isolation # 53

Something resembling the truth, as painter Jasper Johns may say, is what we hear and see from the storm of disinformation we’re now in. Somewhere we know there is a dissembling of the economic and social order, the wolves are in the cupboard even while we are in the hospital bed, or morgue.

But the red white and blue still flies high, doesn’t it?

HotTea “Perspective” Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. ([hoto courtesy of the artist)

As he celebrates his 90th birthday Mr. Johns is perhaps best known for his interpretations of the American flag that began in our last true decade of rebellion against the “system”. By choosing an emotionally charged and historically impactful image to alter he knew he would trigger intense emotions of derision, as well as devotion.

HotTea “Perspective” Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. ([hoto courtesy of the artist)

One of his flag duos that currently is at the Broad Museum features a reimagining of coloration that has inspired the graffti/street/installation artist who goes by the street name HOT TEA. This month in the middle of a Minnesotan field the artist reprised one of his first loved pieces by Johns, “Flags”, which the 30-something Eric Rieger says he first experienced at 18. Using two of his typical art materials, yarn and spray paint, here in the fields of a troubled country in a deeply troubled time, it makes again invites response, critique.

HotTea “Perspective” Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. ([hoto courtesy of the artist)

He says he enjoyed the optical illusion of certain colors in the original, but his perspective has changed as he has gotten older.

“ ‘Flags’ to me now represents a much more conceptual experience.  I see this painting and think of everything that isn’t there but what the facade of the American flags is hiding,” he says.  “This painting is an optical illusion and to me speaks to how something so obvious can be hiding in plain site.  There is so much evil in this world it can make your head spin just thinking about it.  Sometimes I wish my perspective could go back to that of childhood – but it’s the knowledge we gain that shapes us into the person we are today.  One can only hope that our knowledge will be used for good and not to bring harm onto others.” 

Jasper Johns “Flags” 1967-1968
HotTea “Perspective” Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. ([hoto courtesy of the artist)