The story of Supreme’s appropriation of Barbara Kruger’s anti-capitalistic art has become a modern classic. Everybody knows the characteristic seven-letter box logo, mostly red and white, which is slapped on anything from hoodies to bricks and sells whatever item it is printed on. It was taken from the art of a woman who was working against this very form of religious consumerism.
Kruger herself argued on many occasions that she would not claim a right to a font and its design, therefore staying in line with her anti-capitalistic values. Yet Supreme’s blatant dislocation of her art evokes a harsh contrast between art and consumerism. When Don learned that Supreme branded not only skateboards, but fire extinguishers, crowbars and other objects he was even more stunned. This brings the capitalisation of seven white letters in a red box to another level, one which Kruger most likely not agrees with. Whereas Christie’s labels it as art and a “must have”, Kruger concluded: “What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers“.
A week after his visit to LA, Hasan Minhaj released an episode of Patriot Act on Supreme and Kruger and Don decided to become part of the conversation. In reference to the original process of translocation, he utilised Supreme’s logo and came up with two anagrams of the word: “Surpeme“ (which means absolutely nothing but highlights what power branding and logos have since you can’t help but be drawn to it despite the obvious nonsense) and “Presume“ (which ironically encapsulates everything that hype is because it is just a postulated agreement that something is cool and hence worth somebody’s money).
Brought on canvas in his characteristic palette knife technique, the logo is on display in both paintings and mimic Supreme’s T-shirt prints. The canvas shirts are oversized and suspended in mid-air. In the 183 x 121 paintings the brand’s emptiness as well as its presumptuousness escape the shelter of the logo’s popcultural omnipresence.
Don’s “Unorthodox Windows” are the latest additions to his oeuvre. So far, three windows are completed.
„Every time I come here, I’m really curious about what’s going to happen,“ Don says entering his Melbourne studio. Surrounded by various objects, paints, brushes and pigments, Don enjoys letting the paintings and their concepts develop spontaneously. „It sounds corny, but it’s like a journey. Like I’m going somewhere to explore something I don’t know anything about yet.“ After the initial commitment to a certain colour or technique, he often enters a space of absentmindedness he calls “doing without thinking”.
Don creates his paintings on his own, guided by aesthetics, spontaneity, even chance. But during the process he always shares his journey with others, subjecting his work to their opinions. Besides rejection and approval – the far ends of the spectrum – he frequently encounters various interpretations which in turn might inspire him to change direction or rethink his approach. Thus, although he creates on his own, he considers art as a communal process.
„I try to be as openminded as I can“, Don explains, „and take anything that moves me as a possible source of inspiration.“ For example, after finishing the first paintings of the latest series, in contemplation of the novel Windows Don felt himself reminded of his great-grandfather, Georg Meistermann. He was a famous stained-glass artist in post-war Germany, especially known for his church windows. „I didn’t realise it at the time but I must have had him in the back of my mind when I was working on these. His work was pretty unorthodox at the time. Although requested not to, he put a black Maria in a German church in the 50s.“
There is a resemblance to Meistermann’s work. The shapes, separated from each other by clean lines, keeping the colours in place, yet alluding that everything is in constant motion and could change anytime. In Window number 3 this order is reversed, the colours have escaped the shapes which now contain the vibrating surface.