"The Puppet Masters – Making Fools of Us All" by David Haughton, Exhibition Opening
The Puppet Masters – Making Fools of Us All (2024) is intended to provoke thought, promote discussion, and send a warning. Six years ago, David Haughton, an expatriate American who was born and raised in the US, was horrified by the rise in visibility of hatred-filled white nationalism and was compelled to begin painting. Following the 2016 US presidential election, he created an Angry White Men series, which portrayed the inchoate rage of unnamed men – men whose images were captured by media videographers and photographers at various alt-right rallies across the USA and throughout Europe. Haughton exhibited the first twelve works at Gallery 110 in September 2018 – to both acclaim and controversy. He responded, “In depicting these frightening people, I did not intend to glorify them, nor their beliefs. Rather, I was warning of the danger they posed while exposing the underbelly of US and European society.” Haughton echoes Leon Golub’s words: “I paint these works to express my sadness at what is happening in the world. I paint to reveal it and to stop it. I cannot stop it… it is too big. Together, let’s use these works to train to resist fear and falsehood. Stand in front of these men – remain aware of the ugliness and brutality of their behavior – calmly stare them down.”
Haughton continued to paint, coming eventually to a much deeper understanding of what was catalyzing this phenomenon. In two subsequent Vancouver exhibitions he expanded his series in number, size and complexity of image; the show emphasized a need to train ourselves to stand fast and stare down those who threaten others. For him, his paintings became a painful reality on January 6, 2020, nine months before the greatly expanded series was first exhibited in Vancouver, BC (October 2020).
Now, with another critical US election looming, he returns to Seattle with The Puppet Masters – Making Fools of Us All (2024). He offers additional premonitions and urgent warnings: the unraveling of civil society and law, the potential destruction of democracy, and the possibility of civil war. This exhibition serves as a representative selection from the 64-work series completed in 2020 and aims to help clarify, in paint, why democracy and liberal society are threatened. He introduces two new antagonists: Puppet Masters – cynical men who manipulate hatred for personal profit, and their Puppets – pathetically vulnerable men driven to commit lone-wolf violence. Haughton argues that the men in this first category are the truly evil – the men who most need to be called to task: people like conservative media celebrities, Canadian far-right internet bloggers, radio & cable talk-show hosts, white supremacist leaders, and former American Presidents. He warns anew: “They are making fools of us all”.
The Puppet Masters – Making Fools of Us All will be on display at Gallery 110 from January 4 – 27, 2024. Gallery hours are Thursday – Saturday from 12pm – 5pm and by appointment. For additional information, or to schedule a preview or private viewing of the exhibition, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.