Robert Berman Gallery:
The collection of portraits by Mr. Fish (Dwayne Booth) at Robert Berman Gallery serves as a testament to the idols that the political cartoonist holds dear. While Mr. Fish is best known for tongue-in-cheek cartoons, these meticulously rendered portraits show Mr. Fish’s technical aptitude as an artist—a trait that he is not necessarily known for—and is reminiscent of portrait artists like Chuck Close.
While celebrity portraiture can be a bit passé—what with the multitude of airbrush artists along the Sunset strip—Mr. Fish’s work stands out because of context. “We Are Not Alone” is not merely a collection of celebrity portraits, but is a declaration of solidarity in the scheme of the modern era. The collection acts as a reprieve from alienation, and allows a moment for the viewer (activist or not) to be surrounded by like-minded people who have challenged the status quo.
I can imagine a downtrodden activist entering “We Are Not Alone” and feeling just that way—that their efforts are valuable, that they are stronger as a “we” than as an “I” (as displayed, for example, in Activism, 2016), and that they can relax and lean on others who have spoken out like Edward Snowden, Kurt Vonnegut, and Bob Dylan.
Mr. Fish’s work often points out the bad in society through hypocritical thoughts and absurdist behavior. While this is comical (Booth is, after all, a cartoonist), this spotlight on the negative can be debilitating for viewers who hold the same views. “We Are Not Alone” is a deep breath away from that, and is aptly titled. Booth puts himself alongside the viewer—a sentiment that is a connecting thread throughout this work.
Mr. Fish, “We Are Not Alone,” July 30-August 27 at Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, Bergamot Station Arts Center 2525 Michigan Ave, Suite B7, robertbermangallery.com