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Hunter Biden paints his truth

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It’s here that Hunter Biden keep the light, here, for many minutes around the bends of a hill outside Los Angeles, behind the gates and past the Secret Service, through the white, open house he rents with his wife and youngster son, far from everything and everyone. It’s on the garage floor where he spends most of the hours of most days, leaning over the hundreds of paintings he’s created, leaving his palms and fingernails and his jeans and Chelsea boots and bracelets in. silver on his wrists stained with blues, reds and yellows and green vegetables. Over the past few days, he has focused his attention on a 26-foot piece of Yupo Japanese paper, a non-absorbent synthetic that behaves more like plastic than paper or canvas. He usually starts by tinkering with the colors, in this case an almost DayGlo orange and yellow so bright they could only exist in a sunrise during a rave. He uses alcohol ink, a weird medium, he jokes, for a recovering addict who has publicly documented his struggles with drugs and alcohol, both by choice and because of an almost daily attack from his father’s opponents and the right-wing media. But he chose alcohol ink because he can still handle it. He could change everything now if he wanted to. He could wash it with more alcohol ink and then when he was done he could wash it too. For this painting, however, he let the ink develop and layered it more. It’s been hours of rehearsal, standing on paper like Jackson Pollock to keep the ink from leaking and because it gives him a different perspective than if he had to hang something vertically. Sometimes he pours the ink directly onto the paper and then uses sponge brushes to mix it up. Other times he vaporizes it or manipulates it by blowing through a straw.

Against the concrete floor, next to the president’s son, the picture shines. “Almost all great art, and I’m not saying my art is great, even if it’s great for me, comes from the tension,” he says, crossing his arms over the artwork at his feet. “It comes from some kind of innate anxiety that you have to express, and it’s not suppression to me anymore. It’s not therapeutic in the sense that I don’t think about it, or that it’s a way of running away. It’s a way to jump in. The gift they gave me, “he said, referring to the right-wing men obsessed with him,” is their constant pursuit. It got me going. It is a need to express myself. It’s like this tension that we have to be as creative and expressive as possible, to immerse ourselves in it. I mean, what an amazing gift.

Hunter sees his work as creating a universal image that can look like something you see under a microscope or from a satellite millions of light years away, much like the way you look at it- same. He’s been examined and scrutinized for ages, in pictures of a grieving child, on TV screens with his father at swearing-in ceremonies and on the front pages of tabloids plagued by his addiction. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill, and his name has flown outside the White House, coming from its past and current occupants, albeit in very different tones. You can probably all recite his woes, grief, and mistakes by heart, as they have been tirelessly splashed about, experienced publicly, and, for the most part, addressed quite drastically by Hunter himself over the past year: he there was its seat on the board of directors of Burisma. , a Ukrainian energy company owned by an oligarch mired in corruption charges, and his investment in a private equity firm linked to the Chinese government; his addiction and his relationship after his divorce from his first wife; the allegedly stolen laptop that Rudy Giuliani literally melted. Donald trumpThe first impeachment trial at the time was about whether the then president abused his powers by pressuring the Ukrainian government to dig up the dirt on Biden’s youngest son so that he ‘he saddles and moves aside. Joe bidencampaign of. Hunter Biden told it all, in his own words and on his own terms, in a memoir published last spring, less than three months after his father took office. And now some of it, intentionally or not, is showing up in his art, which he recently exhibited publicly for the first time.

It is very easy to imagine a scenario in which Hunter did not write this book and publish it so early in his father’s administration. Same thing, too, with showing your art. Admittedly, this would have reduced both the number of questions the White House press secretary receives on conflict of interest and the volume of New York Post front pages with his photo splashed across them. But there is no private Biden, not in 2021 anyway, but probably never in modern political times. Surely there is no version in which Hunter Biden could or would like to sneak up into the hills. So here he is, out loud, writing history, painting the pictures, making the choice day after day not to wash everything with alcohol ink.

Georges Bergès, the gallery owner who presented Hunter Biden’s exhibit, titled “The Journey Home,” in New York and Los Angeles, had to hire a private security team after receiving death threats and his gallery was vandalized in the course of summer. “It’s crazier than I could have ever imagined,” he told me. “Everyone’s lost their minds.

If these aren’t threats, it’s the paparazzi dragging Hunter along the way to the galleries, as they did Paris Hilton Where Lindsay Lohan coming out of a nightclub in the early 2000s. In October, when he went to New York for the opening of his exhibition in a two-story space in SoHo, they were there, waiting at the outside the gallery, all day and most of the night. They were also waiting outside his hotel. (He had seen Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer, and Emily blunt at the hotel having lunch and assumed the paparazzi were there for them, but the trio left without fanfare, as photographers still waited for them and shouted questions at the laptop when he went to pick up coffee with her daughter and son later in the day.)

Bergès snuck into some of his great collectors and art friends who wanted to see the exhibition in New York – but not be photographed – after dark, sending his staff home and keeping the lights dimmed for the photographers to come home. He wouldn’t name names. “If I say who all of a sudden the right-wing press is going to run with it, and I would be doing these people a disservice,” he told me.

People showed up anyway, privately or otherwise. In early October, around 200 people presented proof of vaccination to enter Milk Studios in LA for the show, including the city’s mayor and President Biden’s candidate for U.S. Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, Moby, former mayor of Stockton Michael Tubbs, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Shepard Fairey, the artist best known for his iconic “Hope” posters used by the Obama campaign. About 95% of the people in the room were people he knew, Hunter told me that evening. One hundred percent of them were people who had some degree of separation with him. Many of them had the surname Biden, including his daughters and sister Ashley and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Through the crowd, waiters passed platters of champagne and sushi, while a videographer friend gathered B-roll and a violinist played in front of projected images of his process and the art in progress.

The artwork itself was saturated with color: Malibu blues, rich rust, blues and greens, and a thread of gold leaf throughout. In a review of his paintings for Whitehot, a well-known critic Donald kuspit wrote that “Biden plays the color keyboard as skillfully as [Kandinsky] fact, whatever the difference in his abstract music, because it has a more urgent purpose. Hunter says he was influenced by Joseph Campbell’s lectures, in which the famous professor spoke about sharing a common mythology, with symbols repeating themselves across civilizations, through eras, across religions. This is why, even though there were different types of works in the exhibit – from more abstract paintings layered over photographs he took around Los Angeles to works featuring thousands of meticulously painted dots or blocks. solid color – you could see a repetition of some symbols: snakes, birds, a solo male figure. Some articles cited philosophers, which is not surprising given that on most days he paints in the garage, Hunter listens to philosophy podcasts. Fairey, the artist, told me after the exhibition that the works were “both graphic and pictorial” and that they were really solid, especially for someone who was earlier in his career: “There has a lot of artists who have been doing work for decades whose work I like less than what I saw at the Hunter Biden show. Same The New York Post managed to compliment him. the New York Times was not cruel. “They have the generic art softness you might see in a posh hotel room, or the end papers of a first edition,” reads a review of the New York exhibit. “Sure, they display a fluent mastery of the medium that reflects serious purpose, even if you forget them days or minutes later. “

The way the works were painted and the way they were hung, they seemed to be backlit when they weren’t. They seemed illuminated from within. Hunter, in a denim shirt and jeans, the center of it all, did it too. Everyone there – his daughters, his friends – kept asking him if he was nervous before the event; they waited for a panic that never came. “Everyone that I know, when they have some kind of public performance, especially if there’s, like, a lot of attention given to it, panics,” singer Moby told me after the event. He and Hunter have been close friends for years. “The number of times I’ve been with painter friends to openings, and before the show, they gulp down Xanax and beta blockers and do vodka shots just to keep the anxiety from melting their brains. And so I walked in and assumed, like, Uh-oh, Hunter is going to be a nervous wreck. So I walked up to him asking, “Are you okay?” But he was so calm. The work has a lightness, a softness. Him too. He’s the only artist I know who, on his opening night, seems genuinely happy.