June 16th, 2009 by Menachem Wecker
Ria Brodell, “St. Anthony Finds G.I. Joe’s Gun,” 2009, gouache on paper, 11 x 15 inches. judirotenberg.com/
Looking at Boston-based exhibits in anticipation of an upcoming visit, I noticed a show of Ria Brodell’s work at Judi Rotenberg from the show “The Handsome & The Holy” (through July 11). Presumably, G.I. Joe would be the handsome, and St. Anthony is the Holy. See also “He-Man and St. Michael Find They Have a Lot in Common” (link) and “He-Man is Introduced to G.I. Joe” (link), which I am guessing are relevant in deciphering Anthony and G.I. Joe.
I’m not sure if this is relevant, but Brodell’s monks wear brown robes, which might relate to St. Francis’ “beast colored” tunic (and St. Anthony was a Franciscan). In terms of the violent element (G.I. Joe’s gun), there is a violent element to the St. Anthony story — he became a Franciscan to die a martyr like five other martyrs whose bodies were carried to his monastery en route to burial. Most importantly, he was the “finder of lost articles.”
There is clearly more to this painting than I have uncovered so far. Brodell’s other works invoke guardian angels and many self-portraits collaged upon other famous figures. I’m also working my way through Brodell’s website, but I thought I’d share the image above.