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KALOUST GUEDEL’S EXCESSIVISM AND THE RISE OF DONALD TRUMP

Kaloust Guedel, the founder of Excessivism, sees Trump as the revolutionary movement’s poster boy.

Excessivist Art by Kaloust Geudel
The Wall Standard, by Kaloust Guedel. This photograph is courtesy of Kaloust Geudel

As the founder of Excessivism and the writer of the movement’s manifesto,  Kaloust Guedel sees art growing out of life experience and realization that includes consumer culture.  Excessivism is a new movement with few twentieth-century precedents.  Like other artists working in this style, Guedel’s art often serves as a commentary on commodified culture.  The artist combines vinyl, glass, metal, and so on, to create art that appeals to the eye and begins a discussion.

While Excessivism offers a critique of material culture, there is a sense in which it also celebrates excess.  Most of us like some excess, especially if it’s pleasurable.  Guedel’s The Wall Standard with its elegant line of gold dropping to pool into a shimmering mass of folds against a dark background conveys a sense of lavish drama.

Excessivist Art by Kaloust Guedel
“Excess 282,” by Kaloust Guedel. This photograph is courtesy of Kaloust Guedel.

Celebrity excess — for better or worse — occupies the cultural spotlight 24/7.  Kim Kardashian’s tremendous booty has been a source of interest and inane speculation for years now.  Human interest in celebrity excess can nevertheless translate to profound art.  Prince’s fans will likely sing his songs and admire the prodigal and abundant ambition that went into making his music until Kingdom come.  Celebrity excess can also be dangerous.  Everything about Donald Trump — from his hair to his demeaning insults — is excessive.

Guedel recently wrote about the relevance of Donald Trump — the ultimate celebrity — and GOP nominee for the 2016 election.  In the article, he says with economic and political excessivism at the core of this new art movement; it naturally relates to Trump’s political path While the artist acknowledges Trump’s relevance, he is nevertheless critical of the level of his excess.   Trump appears as proof of Excessivism’s assertion that consumer culture is flawed.

Excessivist art by Kaloust Geudel
“The Big Bang In Practice,” by Kaloust Geudel. This photograph is courtesy of Kaloust Geudel.

The idea of a Trump presidency is scary.  Trump wants to dismantle the safety measures that the United States has implemented in the wake of WWII.   At the same time, he wants to start new wars that could involve nuclear weapons.  Sam Kleiner, in a June article for The Atlantic, says the Republican nominee is effectively advocating the spread of arms, so destructive they haven’t been used since their horrifying debut over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.  The Onion in one of its jarring serious moments reported that an alarming new global risk report published Tuesday by the United Nations .., presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump may be just seven months away from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Excessivist Art by Kaloust Geudel
“Excess 278,” by Kaloust Guedel. This photograph is courtesy of Kaloust Guedel.

Excessivism is appropriate to the moment.  While Excessivism both criticizes and celebrates excess, it also asks its audience about how much is too much.  Trump, viewed through the prism of Excessivism, appears as a caricature rather than a serious presidential candidate.  It points instead towards the waste that it deplores, the existential threat that confronts humanity due to climate change, and the possibility of a new arms race.

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