Didn’t Hurt, 1998
Acrylic oil on canvas
118 × 89 cm
One of Peter Saul’s signatures is his incendiary treatment of the human psyche: “I decided to maintain the direction of my pictures. I tried to increase the psychological impact, put more unusual characters in the electric chair”.
Saul’s statement conveys a blunt truth: he came to use his well-developed drawing and painting techniques as enabling power to implement what was the most important for him – engaging the viewer with the subject matter.
The character in ‘Didn’t Hurt’ appears as a typical office clerk, the victim of such a strong social pressure that even a bullet through the head would not bother him that much. The theme of the middle class and consumer society was traced from the artist’s earliest works, including the cult image of the refrigerator as an icon of modern culture:
“The refrigerator was the fetish of 1950s consumer culture. If you thumb through magazines like LIFE, ads for the monster appliances leap out at you. The refrigerator became a symbol of affluent society. lt spoke to middle-class yearnings in the postwar period, a time characterized by home sweet home, Tide euphoria, and consumer marvels.” – Martina Weinhart, art historian.
‘Peahead: Ackermann, Altoon, Brown, Dorland, Dubuffet, Fox, Saul, Snyder, Williams’, FRANKLIN PARRASCH GALLERY, New York, 9 September-11 October 2014
Catalogue ‘Peter Saul. You Better Call Saul’, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2016, page 78