Highly Illogical — Casey Weldon, 2013
Currently on display at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, this recent painting from Casey Weldon is one of many excellent pieces in Bad Robot — a group show focusing on the films and TV properties produced by J. J. Abrams for Bad Robot Productions.
Themed exhibits have long been popular, frequently focusing on broad topics of pop culture such as zombies, tiki, or Day of the Dead. In recent years, however, themed shows have emerged with very specific subject matter, drawing large crowds of curious and collectors. Recent shows have included art dedicated to Twin Peaks, Pee Wee Herman, Hello Kitty, and much, much more.
Frequently, these events are staged with the full cooperation and involvement of the copyright holders. Notably, the Hello Kitty exhibit was staged by Sanrio in conjunction with a book release, while the Twin Peaks exhibit included art from David Lynch and saw several cast members attending the opening reception.
At times, though, it’s difficult to tell which exhibits have been given the copyright “thumbs up”, and which are simply the result of a good idea for a theme. The show at Gallery 1988 is billed as “The Official Bad Robot Art Experience”, which would lead one to believe that the artwork produced for the show has been given a copyright pass. Therein, Casey Weldon’s great piece of Mr. Spock Escher-esque string wizardry would not technically need any protection from fair use; permission has been granted! But what if the piece had been created for another exhibit, or for a gallery that failed to secure the proper permissions from the rights holders? Would that mean that Weldon’s painting was any less valid?
While the likeness, the uniform, the pointy ears, and live-long-and-prosper salute are all well known aspects of the character copyrighted by CBS/Viacom/Paramount (take your pick, ownership is confusing!), it’s the unexpected narrative present in the painting that gives the familiar character a new purpose and meaning. Therefore, fair use!
In any case, it is a completely awesome painting!