I headed out to West Hollywood on Saturday night to check out the opening of Mungo Thomson's new work at Margo Leavin Gallery. I have been a fan of Thomson for several years now. I love his sharp conceptualism. He takes simple Americana and make interesting art with them. Thomson has in the past created a video of the American landscape using clips from Roadrunner cartoons (The American Desert (For Chuck Jones), 2002), a compilation of the live recording of Bob Dylan consisting only of the audience applause (The Collected Live Recordings of Bob Dylan 1963-1995, 1999), to the recreation of a Jack T. Chick religious tract that talks about the artist's relationship to art (Everything Has Been Recorded, 2000).
The current show at Margo Leavin Gallery is no difference. Thomson has once again appropriated the form of comic book. The gallery is filled with some fifty original pages from the first issue of Einstien, a comic book that Thomson has conceived, written, drawn, and published. The comic follows several thematic scenes, from the laboratory, the space, and the destroyed city.
Likewise, the central characters of Einstein #1 have been removed from a wide-ranging trove of found comic book material. Every panel has been redrawn by the artist from a different source, with its central characters and speech balloons removed. What remains are only the common spaces of comic books. . . . These spaces have been restructured into a new, un-peopled narrative. The protagonist who normally occupies the center of the action is replaced by the viewer, who embarks on an evolving travelogue through these spaces, and through the popular and mythological spaces of the comics medium.
Einstein #1 is a comic book that deconstructs its own medium while telling a story with sequential art. The "story" is a set of broad themes expounding upon the wonders and limits of human imagination and intelligence. The collapse of innocent fantasy and destructive hubris that it describes is, not coincidentally, the latent subject matter, and thrill, of comic books in general