Billy Jack, Jr., 2006

Photo: Courtesy the artist | Deitch Projects, New York
Photo: Courtesy the artist | Deitch Projects, New York

Graphite, ink, gouache and watercolour on paper
157.7 x 208.3 cm

The title of Billy Jack, Jr. by Brad Kahlhamer seemingly refers to the equally titled cult film "Billy Jack" (1971). The film supported the civil-rights movement in America by shedding light on the discrimination of Native Americans. Its hero of Native American provenance escapes his half-white heritage, to protect the reservations. Kahlhamer depicts diversely coded references from popular culture: expressively painted Indians appear as comic strip figures, disguised relatives of the Death Metal scene, squaws, horses, buffalos, eagles, and totem animals and other iconic images as signs of specific Indian tribes.

Brad Kahlhamer fuses an exuberant embrace of expressionist painting with the visionary tradition of Native American art. Drawing from country western and the Native American rock music scene, the artist's visionary landscapes swirl with an atavistic energy; the paintings seem to have a sound that accompanies their visual rhythm. The great American bald eagle sweeps though the paintings almost as a surrogate for the artist, representing his immersion into his personal American landscape. Kahlhamer has created his own world in these paintings mixing representations of the real into a visionary "third place," as the artist describes it.

*1956 in Tucson, USA | Living and working in New York, USA