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Back to Reviews 96

 Better Get a 
Shovel, 1996

 For Every Quid There 
is a Quo, 1996

 Nom de Guerre, 1996

 Pyramid of 
Pachyderms, 1996 

 Pachydumb, 1996

harry druzd

at the pink pony

by Carlo McCormick
Even as pollsters and pundits put their 

daily spin on the obvious fact that Dole's 

chances against Clinton are fast 

approaching statistical impossibility, 

national politics remains a potent cultural 

metaphor for faith and disillusion, 

persuasion and dread. The impending 

collision of these forces in an election 

that shall determine who will close out the 

millennium as the leader of these United 

States cannot help but rear its ugly head 

in the arts. Among the most provocative and 

appealing in the current spate of visual 

politics of this pre-election season is a 

low-key show of the young iconographic 

perverter Harry Druzd's new paintings at 

the downtown coffee shop and theater, the 

Pink Pony.

Rather than present tokens of the human 

candidates themselves, Druzd prefers the 

more generalized and playful possibilities 

of their surrogate symbols, the Republican 

elephant and Democratic donkey. In omitting 

the specific, his paintings romp along the 

bizarre and childish fringes of allegory. 

Druzd's donkey and elephant are friendly, 

dim-witted and non-threatening in the way 

we like our leaders to be. Innocence here 

is a strategy of diversion and non-

accountability, a deliberate ambivalence of 

intent--these may or may not be political 

paintings--echoed in the creepy CIA-speak 

"Plausible Deniability" of the show's 


The elephant and donkey are rendered in an 

effusive cutesiness. Their darker personae 

were first used in the acerbic caricature 

of Thomas Nast, who invented them as 

lampooning cartoon figures for the two-

party system (Nast's other legacy, derived 

from the cruelty of his drawings of corrupt 

politicians in the American humor magazine 

of yore, Puck, is the word "nasty"). In 

Druzd's work the nastiness is confined to 

the absurdity of gesture. An elephant 

defecating (dirty politics?), a double-

headed donkey (Clinton's two-faced 

waffling?), elephants balancing on a ball 

(the different agendas trying to fit into 

the Republican platform?). Like all things 

at election time, what you see in Harry 

Druzd's paintings depends a great deal on 

your perspective.

Harry Druzd at the Pink Pony, 176 Ludlow 

Street, New York, NY 10002, Oct 23-Dec. 20, 


CARLO McCORMICK is associate editor of