Ken Aptekar recreates historical paintings and overlays them with his own tongue-in-cheek texts. This masterful yet utilitarian appropriation of seminal paintings from the canon — by artists like Milton Avery, Jean-Antoine Watteau, and Ed Ruscha — comes from a desire to “drag the past into the present” and reflects his view that “it is our pleasure and responsibility to create their meaning. ” He applies his words to sandblasted glass that he bolts onto the recreations, often superimposing texts that humorously challenge or subvert the intent of the original painting, as in Not Really (Ruscha) (2011), which counteracts Ruscha’s starry proclamation in Yes (1987) with a perfunctory “Not Really”. “Paintings are nothing on their own; they start meaning something only when you start talking back to them, ”he says.
American, b. 1950