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California State Prison, Corcoran. 2006, ink and pencil on paper, 52 x 156 inches.

California State Prison, Corcoran. 2006, ink and pencil on paper, 52 x 156 inches.

Not a photographer, but an illustrator.

Within Buddy Bunting‘s Panorama series are five West Coast prison facilities. Prisons pop up in other series such as High Living too.

Bunting, like Sandow Birk and Alex Donis before him uses canny illustration to rifle home the banality of (secure) structures and signs in the mundane US hinterlands. Bunting’s grayscale world is one of malls, excavated hillsides, prisons and abandonment.

These subjects are old and familiar to American artists; artists who have attempted to reconcile their art with the psychology of deserts, gas stations and limitless geographies.

Bunting’s work is brooding, but most disturbingly it stakes out an invisible truth – that being, that post-industrial activities in dislocated rural areas are of sinister and charged ideological purpose.

The celebrated colour photography of Shore, Sternfeld and Eggleston is laconic, seductive and – admittedly – sometimes jarring, but never is it so critical or detached as Bunting’s work. Regarding detachment and the artist’s distance, the claim here that sketching has pushed out the great photographers may seem ludicrous and yet that is how I read Bunting’s very intelligent work.

READ & LISTEN

Jen Graves, the art critic for Seattle’s The Stranger (the best free newspaper in America) wrote this article and conducted this audio interview. Well worth your time!

Oregon Gatehouse (its yellow mimicked the shade of rock looming behind as a train went through)  2008, ink and pencil on paper, 30 x 52 in

Oregon Gatehouse (its yellow mimicked the shade of rock looming behind as a train went through). 2008, ink and pencil on paper, 30 x 52 inches.

Walmart Distribution Center. 2008, ink and pencil on paper, 20 x 26 inches.

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