Artist Duke Windsor offers food for thought


Just before the pandemic, Duke Windsor was teaching painterly composition at Art on 30th, a community art space in North Park. The concept he taught his students was relatively simple: in the absence of a subject, a painter will create his own, often painting his surroundings. He remembers showing his students still life slides. One of these slides was of a Dutch master painting of the artist’s kitchen with items like a slice of meat, flour and other ingredients.

“Someone remarked, ‘It kinda reminds me of making a good burger,’” recalls Windsor, who had previously sketched burgers after being intrigued by the marketing posters of fast food restaurants. “It wasn’t until a year later that I remembered this exchange. I went back to my sketchbook and found this burger.

Using acrylics and inspired by the Dutch masters he once admired while working at the Timken Museum, Windsor set out to paint what he calls “modern still lifes” of burgers. The resulting series of works – with names like “Ah Yes More Ketchup” and “Where’s the Beef” – will be shown at “Duke Windsor: Nothing’s Impossible”, a solo exhibition at the Oceanside Museum of Art. The hamburger paintings are clearly a subversive and artful interpretation of a classic style. And while Windsor acknowledges that there is a humorous side to his still lifes, they still function as a scholarly representation of modern diets.

“It’s also about the quality of our food compared to what was eaten back then, and the marketing of that food as well,” says Windsor from his home in Mt. Helix. “It’s not necessarily a boost to this industry, but in a way it’s ironic.”

“Eat”, by Duke Windsor

(Oceanfront Art Museum)

In many ways, the hamburger paintings represent a bit of a departure for Windsor. Although he still uses acrylic and gold leaf gilding in burger paintings, he is best known for his series of San Diego cityscapes and back alleys. Yet a common thread throughout his 20-plus-year career is his exploration of the concept of comfort. Although it is not obvious, Windsor seems to be drawn to the idea of ​​comfort, whether it is the comforts of home or, in the case of its burgers, the satiety one can feel while enjoying one of its dishes. favorite.

“This is about comfort, ”says Windsor. “This is something that is intrinsic to our tastes and beliefs. “

“They are all about a sense of belonging, belonging, desire and vision,” Windsor continues, referring to the collective body of paintings he has produced over the years. “They start from the idea that the only way to get a vision of something you value is if it’s an icon.”

In addition to venturing into still lifes, Windsor also changed his technique for the new series. He used a larger brush to create more visceral textures for the burgers. While in the past he attempted to incorporate abstract techniques into his own style of realism, for the burger series his applications were more deliberate and straightforward. One thing he hasn’t changed, however, is his use of gold leaf gilding to make burgers stand out from the canvas.

“I always think of that movie with Michael Douglas (‘Falling Down’) where he gets his burger and is really upset with how he looks,” says Windsor. “It’s a boost to that. The job of an artist is to create a dialogue and to deepen the meaning of something. The concept of what we see and what we really get.

The solo exhibition at the OMA also marks the first time Windsor has been exhibited at one of San Diego’s largest cultural institutions. He’s had solo shows in galleries and exhibited in countless group shows over the years, but he says it’s “good” to be recognized for his commitment. A former Marine who moved to San Diego in 1979, he credits his military experience for giving him the motivation and commitment to stick to his craft.

A man sitting on a bench in front of paintings in a gallery

San Diego artist Duke Windsor at Sparks Gallery in 2019

(Howard Lipin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“You just have to go out there and work hard to market yourself, and I think that’s what I’ve done over the years,” says Windsor, who bought his home in Mt. Helix in the 90s and has used his garage as his studio ever since. “It’s about getting the job done. To show up. I think San Diego really got me to be tenacious about doing my job no matter what.

Over the years he has worked in abstract, figurative works and, most notably, in his series of works on cityscapes and alleys. He has never ceased to be prolific, constantly creating new works and experimenting with new forms and techniques. In addition to “Nothing’s Impossible”, he is planning a solo exhibition at the Sparks Gallery in October 2022, where he plans to revisit his more figurative series “Men at Work”, which focuses on workers at Caltrans. He also wants to explore “urban still lifes,” as well as a series exploring his rodeo days.

For now, however, he’s just excited to tap into the sense of nostalgia and iconography of clients with his 29 still lifes.

“I just want people to come out and look at them and think of them from their own perspective. What do they remember the first time they ate a burger, “Windsor asks before adding,” just make sure you eat before you show up.

“Duke Windsor: nothing is impossible”

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Exhibition until March 13

Or: Oceanside Art Museum, 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside

Price: Free- $ 10

Telephone: (760) 435-3720

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