A Hybrid Carnival for St. Exupéry #4 (detail), 2006. Oil, latex paint, wood, string, and Sheetrock, 2,ooo square ft. Photo: courtesy the artist.

Phong Bui: Reviving a Sense of Wholeness

At a party sometime in the late ’80s I heard a critic proclaim that it was improper to discuss an artist’s personality in relation to his work: the focus should be on the art alone. T.S. Eliot had made a similar point: “The perfect artist,” as Eliot put it, was one capable of removing his or her emotions entirely from the work and from the opinions of others. The notion of artists as emotionally detached from their work or from an intellectual community is today all too common. Upon being granted a pardon from art school, artists are expected to fabricate images for themselves like corporate logos and to sustain a certain “coolness” in a hyper-aggressive marketing environment.