Mo presents a number of Colleran's most characteristic modalities, each serving in its way to balance out and complete the work of the next. Evident enough are elements of absurdity, plangency, recrimination and shame, all of which have been brought to bear in a technical tour de force upon the solitary figure of singular discomfiture peering without eyes from the morass of a brown backdrop, and from beneath a title that relates with its limping scrawl a sort of complimentary commentary on the dyslexic turpitude and medicated pique native to the grunge landscape.
One of the more poignant pieces of his defacement series, "The Gentleman" is a fine example of the fundamentally comic proclivities informing much of Colleran's work as a cultural commentator. Employing the muddy citrus colors that he reserves in the main for moments of anguish and for the tortured dereglèment that follows loss, the background here - a thick lattice of troubled yellow, punctuated by a flurry of black dashes - envelops the turgid victorian figure that is its victim in a sweeping arabesque of compositional misrule, verging, in its effect, upon a pungent bathos: upon that special kind of cosmic raillery that one can generally find only in Molière and Satie and a place or two else.
With a gesture, Colleran reduces the high drama of the man caught up amid the raptures of intellectual assertion and philosophic insight, to a shambles of dream-speech. It's a page from Davinci's notebook, but one that seeks to murder the truth it purports. It approaches his comic mode, and also his recrimination mode, but stops just short of both, preferring to let the message burn all the more poignantly through tacit understatement. By such methods he reveals much of his special vantage as an artist - the vantage of a man so entirely underwhelmed by the cheap offerings of canon and credo that his only meaningful response to that way of thinking can be the nonsense of which all such flat Reason truly consists. Alfred Jarry would've looked upon such an image as a companion piece to his work.
There is a certain gorgeousness to watching a soul fall apart. Hope, when it dies, gives off a sort of light more perfectly refulgent than the stars. The artist who provides his audience with a balanced, sanguine view of the world is not an artist, he is a wisdom writer. At best he is Emerson, but more likely, a flat-minded, half-souled moralist. A spiritual hayseed. He is Dan Brown with bits of George Sand and Stephen Spielberg shoved in at the margins. Since Byron felled Lermontov with Pushkin's pistol, true artists were required to die in order to please us. After Cobain, this rule was amended slightly so that now they are required to die by living on in a state of weirdness. This weirdness, Colleran has converted into a sort of flute music, into a troubadour's whimsy, piping dark notes for all the flowers of Provence.
Technique is no longer technique. In the early days of man, we needed to believe we were worthy of the love of god, so we forced Art to become Michelangelo. We made it as good as God. We got there. Then God died. Now what? Now we take the tools we used to earn God's love and put them to use trying to earn the love of our own brains. But it's hard. The brain is a petulant child who likes things only until you deliver them. The cure for this? Resonance. Now we must be so beautiful that the brain cannot deny us, cannot forget the message of the piece, for it has been burned onto the west flank of time with a hot, steel poker. This is the plangency, this is why artists, men and society capsize continually, lost on the high winds of this communal effort to make the mind stop twisting.
Colleran's art is meant to leave you changed, and largely succeeds at that goal. The connective filament strung between his exact, premeditated aesthetic intentions, his performance on the canvas, and the dérèglement it wrecks upon the feelings of the person who looks upon that canvas, is as taut as dammit. Van Gogh, perhaps the ultimate demi-god of this talent, would have respected it. It is a hard-won skillset, in the pursuit of which countless poets and madmen have gone under. What does Colleran seek to do with this rare, orphic boon? He illuminates the cultural will of his generation, and makes it legitimate in the eyes of time. He employs every tool of sight and eye reaching back to the era of cave paintings and ratchets them up into a vigorous howl-state, a swirling purgatory as depressing as the fall of the American Daemonic.
Remove aspects from the normal and the normal will soon become strange, and the mind witnessing this strangeness will scurry in a hundred directions at once to discover the unknown cause of the weird. This is a tool. In the hands of an artist, it can be a brush. In the hands of an alpha-grade artist, it can be a branch of philosophy, a Nietzsche-like act of psychologization, but pictorial, literally drawing the inside of human consciousness for all to witness. Consider his free-indirect-discourse technique a type of removal of the rules of sensible prose, and Joyce was one of the great masters of this. It describes Cubism writ-large. Colleran uses this technique as well, but he has personalized it, the same way Baudelaire personalized Victor Hugo. His shame affect is the maturation of modern art into a means by which to depict emotionalized consciousness from the inside out.