The subconscious and grotesque stick together in the art of Russell Maycumber
Since the early nineties, Russell Maycumber has been documenting his life, travels and interior reality onto three inch, yellow squares. Introduced by the 3M Company in 1980, the Post-it Note is a small square of paper with an adhesive backing – initially introduced as an office-friendly product that could be used to jot down reminders, appointments and upcoming tasks, and then applied to any available flat surface. Yet Maycumber uses these ubiquitous pieces of sticky stationary to create images that explore memoir, humor and the phantasmagoric, creating them systematically, if not compulsively; a kind of hypergraphia barely contained in magic marker and yellow paper. The 44-year-old Maycumber admits to owning “volumes” filled with these images that date back to the early nineties. But rather than having them tucked away on some shelf in his house, the St. Augustine-based artist creates massive installations and sculptures that can contain hundreds upon hundreds of these carefully arranged Post-it Note drawings. Viewed in mass, the small squares can have an overwhelming effect: these images of chimerical creatures, people captured in mundane activities, classic automobiles, flying skulls, sexuality and playful demons seem to exist in a weird realm that splits the difference between the subliminal and the obvious. Some images feature cryptic text, while others offer little help in deciphering the odd, miniature graphic. Maycumber’s work seems to find company in the fever dream-styled imagery of artists like Francisco Goya, Edward Gorey, Max Ernst (especially the surrealist’s pioneering, 1934 collage work “Une Semaine de Bonté ,” translated as “A Week of Kindness”) or even underground comic raunch lord S. Clay Wilson. Yet Maycumber’s concepts and delivery are wholly his own, blasting these images at the viewer in the form of a mob of hundreds of pieces of visual shrapnel, aimed for the bull’s-eye of the viewer’s retina and mind.