The power of war
Like many other writers, I have my biases. I usually tend to pick shows to write about that have a slant toward the craft of making art. Style and skill usually attract my attention first; subject often takes a backseat. But sometimes, a show will come along by someone whom I’ve never heard of, who is creating work that is so loaded with weighty subject that anything that simply dresses up the picture plane becomes less important. In college, my articulate professors used the lofty term “baseball-bat art” to describe this stuff because it basically hits you upside the head. Shocking just for the sake of being shocking usually gets pretty annoying, but sometimes, work comes along that leaves you affected, drawn in by the blast, and you can’t help but let it alter your state.
On Saturday, November 8, along with Monday and Tuesday, November 10 and 11 (the latter being Veterans Day), a show at Time Bandits Gallery, 922 12th Street, will feature the drawings, prints and paintings of Akinsanya Kambon, a Sacramento native who, at the ripe age of 19, was drafted to fight in Vietnam. Serving as a combat illustrator, Kambon created many terrible images that were sent back to Washington, D.C., only to be destroyed. Some were sent to his mother and are exhibited in this show, along with paintings done later that re-create events Kambon experienced firsthand. These images are quite graphically explicit and not for everyone, but the honesty and reality in the work drives home what many veterans have gone through.
Today, many parallels are being drawn between the current war in Iraq and the Vietnam War. Regardless of the politics about whether we should be engaged in combat actions, we are, and people are dying. Many who experienced Vietnam are feeling for the soldiers fighting in Iraq and feel the need to speak out. This exhibit, sponsored by the Veterans for Peace, Sacramento Chapter, strives to allow for this. The timing seems apt. Even though it’s quite a diversion from the normal gallery fare, it’s necessary sometimes to witness a jarring exhibit such as this to make the viewer realize the power that a basic drawing can possess.