by Sarah Coleman
“If Dr. Frankenstein had worked with paper instead of body parts, he’d have been a collage artist.” So says Winston Smith, a self-confessed “art criminal” best known for his anarchic slash-and-paste album covers for the Dead Kennedys and Green Day.
A gleeful image bandit, Smith culls pictures from vintage magazines and children’s books, reassembling them to create dystopic visions in which apple-pie Americana gives way to chaos and disorder.
In this “instant surrealism,” perky ‘50s housewives feed bottle-shaped missles to their babies and Neadnerthal men overrun battleships. But if Smith’s vision is apocalyptic, his humor is infectious: in Pax Americana a smug, muscle-chested soldier presides over a scene of Bosch-like decadence, and the image’s manic energy (not to mention its political satire) is exhilarating.
Another source of fun is Smith’s titles, which pack their own surreal Punch — God Told Me to Skin You Alive and What a Friend We Have in Cheeses are two appealing examples. A veteran of underground art, Smith is gettying pretty mainstream these days: the show at Hultberg follows a retrospective (on view until Sun/13) of his rock-related art at 111 Minna, and his brand-new book Artcrime is due out soon. At Hultberg, the newer works have been transferred onto watercolor paper and canvas via Iris pritning, and although this detracts from their grassroots nature, the results are handsome.
A reception and book signing will be held at the gallery Thursday from 7 to 10 pm
Tuesday — Saturday, 11 am — 7 pm; Sunday, noon — 6 pm
544 Hayes, San Francisco, CA