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Art Library Exhibitions Spaces and Special Events: Joseph Ursulo

Biography

Joseph Ursulo began making art on July 5, 2015, at the unlikely age of 33. He never studied art formally and probably never will. He subscribes to the philosophy of the Surrealists, to artists like Man Ray who took art away from the academic painter, and, like a Robin Hood for the Arts, gave it to the untrained amateur who found his materials in flea markets. Like the Surrealists, Ursulo juxtaposes unrelated images, but whereas the Surrealists were interested in psychological art, Ursulo fancies himself to be more of a conceptual artist. His objects often address the three topics to always avoid at the dinner table: politics, religion, and sex. But that’s not to say he’s above playful humor or references to pop culture, and, truth be told, he really does do a bit of dabbling in psychological art like his Surrealist forebears. He cannot describe the rush he feels when the image of a new hybrid object pops into his mind—could he say it’s like a hilarious orgasm?—but he does his best to translate that image into physical reality, hoping to transmit at least a percentage of that rush onto his viewers.

Call Girl Call Bell by Joseph Ursulo

Artist Statement by Joseph Ursulo

My chief artistic goal is harmony. I seek to forge a natural, seamless bond between objects that might seem incompatible at first. Objects like a trumpet and traffic light, a pencil and wine bottle, a microphone and clown nose. My most successful hybrids are the ones you’d almost expect to find on a store shelf, the ones that might actually have been designed with a practical, rather than artistic purpose in mind.

I've found that my hybrids have a tendency to mock or make political statements. I can’t be blamed or credited for that. All of my objects begin with an image, not an idea. Only after I assemble a piece do the ideas, politics, and satire all begin to develop. So if the final result ends up ridiculing society, don't blame me, blame society.

I question the motives of the object-makers that came before me. The Dalís, the Oppenheims, the Man Rays who strove to subvert high art by putting common objects on pedestals, the everyday things of life behind glass. The truth is that there really is more beauty in a doorknob than a painting, more meaning in a rocking chair than a bronze. Displaying household objects in a museum should never have been interpreted as an insult to museums, but rather as a deserved honor—long overdue—to the delightful goods that clutter our lives.