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Arisman: Facing the Aucience

Known for the haunting, often disturbing images in his paintings and magazine covers alike, New York-based artist Marshall Arisman proves a worthy subject for Tony Silver's penetrating docu "Arisman: Facing the Audience." Film seems a natural for PBS and docu-friendly cable outlets.

Known for the haunting, often disturbing images in his paintings and magazine covers alike, New York-based artist Marshall Arisman proves a worthy subject for Tony Silver’s penetrating docu “Arisman: Facing the Audience.” Film seems a natural for PBS and docu-friendly cable outlets.

Whether painting, sculpting or lecturing students on the significance of art, Arisman is a fascinating iconoclast whose witty, frank and incisive commentary elucidates his own work. Silver tracks the artist at his Manhattan studio, on a visit to his hometown in rural New York and to an exhibit of his work in Guangdong, China. Arisman, whose art bears hints of Goya and Velasquez, may not be for all tastes, but China’s reverence for primates engendered a warm reception for his painting series “Sacred Monkeys.” Docu alternates clips (too few) of the artist at work with critical commentary from admirers including author Paul Theroux, who labels Arisman “a shaman, an enchanter.” Docu could have benefited from a more cohesive structure and more images of Arisman actually producing art; as is, pic offers a tantalizing glimpse into the mind and work process of a remarkable creative force.

Arisman: Facing the Aucience

  • Production: A Public Art Films production. Produced, directed by Tony Silver.
  • Crew: Camera (color digital video), James Szalapski; editors, Silver, Evan Spence. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, March 1, 2002. Running time: 82 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Marshall Arisman, Bruce Arisman, Paul Theroux, Steven Heller, Vincent Policano Jr., Patricia Bartlett.
  • Music By: